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ra if)(vri €tmv €v roig trvyypafAfuun Oemfnioai, fieyaXiiy c^otra tp 
^(HiyvKoyui wepivoiay' €v oig av evpocc iroXXa eyKtt/jua nfc aofuiSf 
KiuirporpewrtKa, mpi tjiv ffwjuay Sap ayaXajSciv.— Origbn comtha 
Cblsom, ub. in. CAP. 45. 






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PriDtMl by T. Kaycb 45, C«stle-ftr«et, UTwpool. 


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When the Author first applied to theological 
studies, he felt, in common with most other 
students, much perplexed by the many difficulties 
in the book of Ecclesiastes. From the widely- 
diversified opinions of critics and commentators 
he derived but little satisfaction. In the pro- 
gress, however, of his inquiries, he fancied that 
he had discovered the right clue to unravel the 
intricacies in which the Ecclesiastes, more, per- 
haps, than any other book among the Hebrew 
Scriptures, is involved. He then sketched the 
draught of the present performance, and, after 
keeping it some time by him, was emboldened. 


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in the beginmng of the year 1817, to submit it to 
the Lord Bishop of Chester, who, with that 
friendly attention which he pays to all the Clergy 
of his Diocese, took the trouble of perusing it, 
and, in the most kind and condescending manner, 
encouraged the Author to persevere in the at- 
tempt. He therefore proceeded to fill up the 
outline: the more he reflected upon the subject, 
the more he was convinced that the view which 
he had taken of the book was correct; and such 
additions have been made as naturally result 
firom repeated revisions, and firom continued 
application to Biblical studies. 

The work was transcribed, and ready to be 
put into the hands of the printer, when the 
Author saw announced, as already in the press, 
" Lectures on the Book of Ecclesiastes, by Ralph 
Wardlaw, D.D." As his Attempt might thus be 
superseded, immediate publication would have 
been premature. Dr. Wardlaw's Lectures, how- 
ever, which appeared towards the end of 1821, in 2 
vols. 8vc|| are wholly of a practical nature, without 
aiming at " critical or philological disquisition." 


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As Dr. Wardlaw's plan and the Author's are 

totally different, and as he could not but hope 

that something has been contributed by his 

labours to the critical illustration of, the Eccle- 

siastes, he finally determined upon publication. 

But though he had no view to emolument, yet, 

from the small circulation of such works, he 
found that he had no mode of venturing to the 

press, with the prospect of a mere indemnification, 
except through the medium of a subscription. 
He resolved, therefore, to appeal to the public; 
and for this purpose he drew up a Prospectus, 
briefly describing the design and object of the 
proposed work. In this appeal he has been suc- 
cessful beyond his anticipations. His list of 
Subscribers is numerous and respectable; and 
while he feels himself under particular obligations 
to a few zealous friends, to whose kind exertions 
his success is principally to be ascribed, he 
gladly takes this opportunity of expressing his 
acknowledgments to all who have supported 

his undertaking. 


Such has been the origin and progress of this 
publication: a more particular account of its 



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nature and object may be found in the Preliminary 
Dissertation.' Whatever may be its merits or 
defects, he cannot^ in extenuation of the latter, 
urge that it has been a hasty publication; it has 
long occupied his thoughts; he has diligently 
endeavoured to render it worthy of the public 
eye, for, though of small dimensions, it has been 
a work of much labour ; and he now sends it 
into the world, being fully prepared to submit to 
the decision of that tribunal by which all literary 
pretensions must be judged. 

August, 1822. 


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The Preliminary Dissertation i 

Sect. I. The Author of the Ecclesiastes • . • iii 

II. Canonical Authority of the Ecclesiastes xxviii 

III. Of the Title Koheleth • • • . xxxi 

IV. The Scope and Design of the Ecclesi- 

astes xlvii 

V. The Style and Language of the Eccle- 
siastes Ixxv 

VI. The Object and Design of this Pub- 
lication xcviii 

Analytical Table of the (Tontents of the Ecclesi- 
astes • xcix 

The Paraphrase on the Ecclesiastes 3 

The Explanatory and Critical Notes 58 


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xxTliL Note, line 8, for aiFOKpv^rev, read oToicpvnTciv. 

Note, line 8 from the bottom, after wen ^nfy forbidden to he read, 

add by pmng penoiu. 
xxxiv. Note, line 2 from the bottom, forfasHdat, read/iuHdte. 
lii. line 2, for ajvture state of retributive justice could not, eonsistetUly, be 

revealed during, f&c, read could not, consistently, be eiijoined as an 

article qf faith during, Sec, 
Ixi. line 20, for Jewisks age, read Jewish sage, 
Ixiii. line 2, for conMhuted, read contribuJtes, 
Ixxxiv. Note ♦, line I, > - 
Ixxxv. Note t, line 2, K^' ^^oguet, read Gogu^. 


10, last line, for This [i«] lahour in secular works, also vanity, read This 

labour in secular works [u] also vanity. 
48, line 20, for child, read childhood. 
50, line 9, for wheels, read wheel 


74, Critical Note *, line 19^ for derivate, read derivaHve, 

87, , line 2, for roller, read robur, 

170, , line 7, for purchra imago est hominef, read pukhra 

imago est homnis. 
174, line 12, for if one more, read is the more, 

, line Iff) for most unfounded, read mostly unfounded. 

In a few places, for Bitiiop Patrie^ read BiAop Patrick. 

In page xciz it is stated, that the Critical Notes are placed at the 
end, in an Appendix ; but, after the Preliminary Dissertation was worked 
off, it was judged more convenient to place them under the Explana- 
tory Notes, on the same piage. As the Critical Notes are still kept 
distinct from the Explanatory Notes, it was thooght mmecessary 
to cancel page xcix of the Preliminaiy Dissertation. 

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AiDger, Rev. Dr. St. Bees, Camberlaod. 
Alison, R. Esq. Moor-hall, Lancashire/ 
Allix, Rev. R. W« Warrington. 
Almond, Rev. G. Bramham, Yorkshire. 
Ashton, Mr. Michael, Liverpool. 
Aspinall, Jas. Esq. Liverpool. 
Aspinall, Rev. James, Rochdale, Lancashire. 
AspinwfUl, Mr. T. Lydiate, Lancashire. 
Atkinson, Rev. J. GiUing, Yorkshire. 

Baines, John, Esq. Liverpool. 

Baker, Mr. Benjamin, Scolptor, liverpool. 

Balfonr, Rev. J. Liverpool. 

Banning, W. Esq. PostoflBice, liverpool. 

Barker, J. R. Esq. Liverpool. 

Bams, Mr. H. liverpool. 

Bams, Rev. Wm. Threapwood, Cheshire. ' 

Bamsdale, Rev. — . Ringley, Lancashire. 

Barton, Rev. H. Rector of Eastchnrch, Kent. 

Barton, Rev. H. J. Warwick. 

Barton, Mr. W. Liverpool. 

Barton, Mr. MUes, Everton, LiverpooL 

Beard, Mr. John, Liverpool. 

Beckwith, Wm. Esq. Liverpool. 

Beerbohm, Herr Wilhelm, Memel. 

Bennett, Edward, Esq. Backwood, Cheshire. 

Berry, Rev. H. Rector of Acton Beanchamp, Worcestershire. 

Bevan, J. Esq. Springfield, Lancashire. 

Bickerstaff, R. Esq. Chirk, Denbighshire, two eapiet, 

Birkbeck, Wm. Esq. Banker, Settte. 

Blnndell, Rev. Wm. Liverpool. 

Boddington, Rev. J. C. Bradford, Yorkshire. 

Boddington, Rev. T. Thorp Arch, Yorkshire. 

Bold, Rev. T. Bootle, Lancashire. 

Borrowdale, Rev. Thos. Horton, Yorkshire. 

Boame, John, Esq. Stalmin-hall, Lancashire. 

fionme, James, Esq. Heathfield, Lancashire. 

Bowdon, Joshua, £sq. Liverpool. 

Bowman, Mr. J. Great Crospy, Laacashirt. 


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Bownass, Rev. R. Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire. 

Bowstead, Rev. T. S. Liverpool* 

Boyer, Mr. R. Latiiom, Lancashire. 

Boyer, Mr. £. Lathom, Lancashire. 

Boyer, Mr. H. Lathom^ Lancasliire. 

Brancker, Mr. James, Anfield-lodge, Lancashire. 

Briggs, Jos. Esq. Barrister, Gray's Inn. 

Bromfield, B. Esq. Wayertree, Lancashire. 

Brooke, Mr. R. Jun. Solicitor, Liverpool. 

Brookes, Rev. Jon. Everton, Liverpool. 

Brown, Geo. Esq. Liverpool. 

Browne, Mr. T. Liverpool. \ 

Brythe, Thomas, Esq. Magdalen-hall, Oxford. 

Bnddicom, Rev. R. P., F.S.A. Everton, UverpooK 

Bulmer, Rev. P. Liverpool. 

Bnrchall, Capt. J. Adjutant L. M. Ormskirk. 

Bury, John, Esq. S win ton, Lancashire. 

Bury, G. F. Esq. Solicitor, Manchester. 

Bnry, W. Esq. Magdalen-hall, Oxford. 

Chester, Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of. 

Canning, the Right Hon. George, M.P. &c. &c. &c. 

Cameron, G. D., M.D. Liverpool. 

Card, Rev. H., Vicar of Great Malvern, Worcestershire. 

Carr, Rev. C. Peakirk, Northamptonshire. 

Chaffers, Mr. T. Marshfield, Lancashire. 

Chnbbard, Mrs. Kensington, Liverpool. 

Clapham, Richard, Esq. Feizar, Yorkshire. 

Clay, Mr. R. Chemist, Liverpool. 

Cole, T. Butler, Esq. Rirkland-hall, Lancashire. 

Collison, Mr. T. Surgeon, Liverpool. 

Cooban, Mr. W. Solicitor, Liverpool. 

Corbett, Rev. Dr. Wortley, Lancashire. 

Corfield, Rev. R. Rector of Pitchford, Salop. 

Coventry, Rev. G. Lathom, Lancashire. 

Cross, Mr. John, Lydiate, Lancashire. 

Crosthwaite, Mr. John, Liverpool. 

Crov^her, Mr. G. H. Frodsham, Cheshire. 

Cniickshank, Mr. G. Bookseller, Liverpool, two copie$, 

Culshaw, William, Esq. Moss-end, Lancashire. 

Cnlshaw, James, Esq. Ormskirk. 

Durham, the Hon. and Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of. 

Dakin, Miss, Warrington. 

Dale, Rev. P. S. Hollinsfare, Lancashire. 

Davies, Rev. W. W. Bronghton, Cheshire. 

Davis, T. H. Esq. His Majesty's Customs, London. 

Dixon, Mr. R. Ponlton-le-Fylde, Lancaslure. 

Docker, Rev. W. Southport, Lancashire. 

Dodson, Mrs. Liverpool. 

Eden, John, Esq.- Solicitor, Liverpool. 
Elston, Mr. H. Surgeon, Ormskirk. 
Evans, Mr. W. Liverpool. 
Eyes, Mr. E. Surveyor, Liverpool. 

Fairclongh, Mr. C. Liverpool. 

Fanshawe, Rev. J. Ticar of Frodsham^ Cheshire. 


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Panshawe, Rey. T. L. Vicar of Dafeoham, Eisex. 

Farriogton, Mrs. Shawe-hall, Lancashire. 

Fisher, John, Esq. Lytham, Lancashire. 

Forde, Rev. A. B. Maghall, Lancashire. 

Formby, Rev. R. FomtbyJiall, Lancashire. 

Formby, Rev. Miles, Liverpool. ^ 

Forrester, C. D. Esq. London. 

Forshaw, Rev. C. OrmslLirk 

Foster, Thomas, Esq. Clapham, Yorkshire. 

Foster, Mr. James, Liverpool. 

Fox, William, Esq. Statham, Cheshire. 

Fry, Mr. Joseph, Liverpool. 

Gandy, Mr. W. J. Solicitor, Liverpool. 
Garratt, Rev. Thomas, Altcar, Lancashire. 
Gibbon, Edward, Esq. Liverpool. 
Gildard, John, Esq. Cappleside-hall, Yorkshire. 
GUdard, Robert, Esq. Rathmell, Yorkshire. 
Gore, Mr. J. Bookseller, LiverpooL 
Oonthwaite, Mr. F. Liverpool. 
Graham, Mr. R. Liverpool. 
Grapel, Mr. W. Bookseller, Liverpool, sir copUt, 
Greaves, Mr. Mill Bank, Warrington. 
Greenham, Robert, Esq. Liverpool. 
Goodwill, Rev. George, Wigan. 

Hesketh, Sir Thomas Dalrymple, Bart^Rafford.hall, Lancashire. 

Halibnrton, A. Esq. Doaglas sank, Lancashire. 

Hall, Mr. J. Liverpool. 

Hallowes, Mr. John, LiverpooL 

Halton, Mr. J. P. Surgeon, Liverpool. 

Hamer, Rev. J. Toxteth Park, Lancashire. 

Hancock, Mr. T. Surgeon, Ormskirk. 

Hanmer, Latham, Esq. His Majesty's Customs, Liverpool 

Hanning, Mr. Joseph, Surgeon, Walton, Lancashire. 

Harkness, Mr. Richard, Ormskirk. 

Harrison, Mr. James, Liverpool. 

Harrocks, Jno. Esq. Liverpool. 

Hawkshead, Thomas, Esq. Heskin, Lancashire. 

Heap, Rev. Henry, Vicar of Bradford, Yorkshire. 

Heathcote, Mr. T. Ormskirk. 

Heathcote, Rev. J. Liverpool. 

Hesketh, Robert, Esq. Rossall-hall, Lancashire. 

Hill, Rev. Edward, Wigan. 

Hodgson, Rev. J. Great Crosby, Lancashire. 

Hodgson, Mr. J. Solicitor, LiverpooL 

Hoggins, Rev. Jas. Sephtoo, Lancashire. 

Holden, Mrs. Halsall, Lancashire. 

Holden, Mr. Johnson, LiverpooL 

Hohnes, Henry, Jnn. Esq. Liverpool. 

Ho^wood, WiUiam, Esq. Trinity College, Cambridge. 

Hornby, Rev. J. Rector of Winwick, Lancashire. 

Hornby, Rev. H. Rector of St. Michael's, Lancashire. 

Horne, Rev. T. Hartwell, London. 

Horton, Rev. Joshua T. Vicar of Ormskirk. 

Houghton, Mr. £. Surgeon, Ormskirk. 

Houghton, Mr. Thomas, Solicitor, Ormskirk. 

HowioOy Rev. J. Oiggleswick, Yorkshire, two copie$. 


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Hnddleston, John, Esq. Liverpool. 
Hull, Rev. Edward, Liverpool 
Hunter, John, Esq. Liverpool. 
Hntton, John, Esq. Liverpool. 

Ingram, Rev. R. Free Grammar School, Giggleswick, Yorkshire; 
Irlam, George, Esq. Bootle, Lancashire. 

Jackson, John, Esq. Liverpool. 

Jeffreys, T., M.D. Liverpool. 

Jol^nson, Mr. G. Liverpool. 

Jones, Rev. R. Great Badworth, Cheshire. 

Jones, Terrick, Esq. Great Crosby, Lancashire. 

Jones, Richard, Esq. Springwood, Lancashire. 

Jones, Mr. R. J. Solicitor, Liverpool 

Knox, the Hon. and Rev. E. Dean of Down. 

Kaye, Mr. T. Bookseller, Liverpool, iix copUa. 

Kearsley, J. Hodson, Esq. Wigan. 

Kershaw, Mr. T. Academy, Ormskirk. 

Knapper, Mr. Ephraim, Liverpool 

Knowles, John, Esq. Linacre-grove, Lancashire, six copies. 

Liverpool, the Right Hon. the Earl of, K.G. &c. &c. Sec. 

Laughton, Captain J. Harrington, Liverpool. 

Lawson, Mr. T. Liverpool. 

Leather, Mr. P. Solicitor, Liverpool. 

Lightfoot, Mr. J. Accountant, Liverpo5l. 

liptrot, Mr. W. Aughton, Lancashire. 

Lister, Rev. A. Vicar of Gargrave, Yorkshire. 

Literary Society, Settle, Yorkshire. 

Locke, Miss, Liverpool 

Loxham, Rev. Richard, Rector of Halsall, Lancashire 

Loxham, Rev. Robert, Rector of Stickney, Uncolnshire. 

Lumley, William, Esq. Leeds. 

MacBride. Rev. Dr. Principal of Magdalen-hall, Oxford. 

MacLean, Herr Lachlan, Danzig. 

Magdalen-hall Library, Oxford. 

Manning, Mrs. Liverpool 

Marshall, Rev. T. Eccleston, Lancashire. "^ 

Martin, Miss, Liverpool. 

Master, Rev. R. Croston, Lancashire. 

Merian, Herr J. J. Basle. 

Molyneux, Mr. T. C. Liverpool 

Monk, Rev. J. B. Liverpool 

Moore, Thos. Esq. Long-Preston, Yorkshire. 

Moore, Mr. John, Surgeon, Bolton-le-Moor. 

Moss, Rev. T. Vicar of Walton-on-the-hill, Lancashire. 

Muncaster, Mr. T. Bookseller, Liverpool 

Naylor, James, Esq. Liverpool. 

Newman, William, Esq. Darley-hall, Yorkshire. 

Ormandy, Mr. J. BookseUer, Liverpool 

Peel, Right Hon. Robert, M.P. &c. &c. &c. 
Palmer, Mr. Solicitor, Ormskirk. 


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Parke, Mr. J. Chemist, Liverpool. 

Pedder, Rev. J. Vicar of Garstang, LancMhire. 

Perry, W., M.D. Liverpool. 

Pickard, Mr. J. Liverpool. 

Porter, T. C. Eso. West Derby, Lancashire 

Porter, Rev. Jackson, Whitworth, Lancashire. 

Prescot, Miss, Dalton, Lancashire. 

Prince, Rev. J. C. Liverpool. 

Povrell, Rev. Benjamin, Wigan. 

RadcUHfe, Mr. J. His Majesty's Customs, LiTerpool. 

Radcliffe, Mr. R. Solicitor, Liverpool. 

Rawstome, Rev. R. A. Rector of Warrington. 

Richards, Rev. O. Wortley, Yorkshire. 

Rigby, Miss, Liverpool. 

Rigby, Mr. T. Marston, Cheshire. 

Rimmer, Mr. T. Liverpool. 

Ripley, Mr. G. Solicitor, LiverpooL 

Roach, N. Esq. Barbados. 

Robinson, N. Esq. Ai|(bargh, Lancashire. 

Robinson, R. Esa. Paisley-hoose, Lancashire. 

Robinson, G. ana J. Booksellers, Liverpool, three eepU$, 

Rogers, Mr. Surgeon, Settle, Yorkshire. 

Rolandson, A. Esq. Brasennose College, Oxford. 

Rnppel, Herr Carl, Memel. 

St. David's, the Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of. 

Scarisbrick, Mrs. Scarisbrick-hall, Lancashire, fwr copies, 

Scott, R. W., M.D. Liverpool. 

Segar, Mr. H. His Majesty's Customs, Liverpool. 

Sephton, Mr. E. Liverpool. 

Sharpies, Mr. H. Solicitor, Ormskirk. 

Sillar, Z., M.D. Liverpool. 

Slade, Rev. James, Vicar of Bolton-le-Moors. 

Smalt, Mrs. Leyland Grove, Lancashire. 

Smith, Bryan, Esq. Lydiate, Lancashire. 

Smith, Bryan, Jnn. £!sq. Liverpool. 

Smith, Mr. Richard, Liverpool, rix copies. 

Smith, Mr. J. Ormskirk. 

Smyth, Rev. J. H. Liverpool. 

Sorensen, P. Esq. Danish Consul, Liverpool. 

Swainson, Mr. J. G. Liverpool. 

Tarleton, Mr. Jno. Liverpool. 
Tatham, R. Esq. Low-fields, Lancashire. 
Taylor, Rev. J. Heskin, Lancashire. 
Tennant, Rev. W. Castle Bytham, Lincolnshire. 
Thomas, Mr. P. Latiiam, Lancashire. 
Trontbeck, J. Esq. Great Crosby, Lancashire. 
Tyrer, Mr. James, Liverpool. 

Vanbrugh, Rey. G. Rector of Anghton, La nca s h i r e. 

Wilbraham, B. Bootle, Esq. M.P. LathomJioase, Lancashire. 
Walkden, T. Esq. Stanley-gate, Lancashire. 
Walker, Thomas, Esq. Aoghton, Lancashire. 
Wareing, W. Esq. S<Hicitor, Ormskirk. 


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Weickhmaim, Herr C. W. tod, Danzif • 

Welsby, Mr. H. Lydiate, Lancashire. 

Wballey, Mr. R. Lydiate, LaDcaahire. 

Whitehead, ReT. T. Hattoo, Lancashire. 

Wignall, Mr. William, Ormskirk. 

Willan, ReT. R. Bamsley, Yorkshire. 

Willan, ReT. Thomas, Rector of Irnham, lancohuhire. 

Willan, Mr. E. Bookseller, Liverpool. 

Williamson, Rct. J. Warrinnrton. 

Wilson, H. Porter, Esq. Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire. 

Wilson, Thomas, Esq. Solicitor, Ponlton-le-Fylde, Lancashii*.^ 

Wilson, Mr. Thomas, Jon. Ponlton-le-Fylde, Lancashire. 

Wilson, Mr. W. LiTcrpool. 

Withington, Miss A. Heskin, Lancashire. 

Wright, Harvey, Eso. Solicitor, Ormskirk. 

Woodcock, T. Esq. Bank-honse, Lancashire^ 

York, his Grace the Archbishop of. 

Zwilchenbart, Mr. R. LiTerpoeL 


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Thb Old TegtanKnt, whether we consider its 
inspiration or its indispensaUe importance to the 
ducidation of the New, ought to be att^itively 
stiuiied by every Christian divine. Yet it must 
be confessed, that many parts of it are vary diffi- 
cult to interpret; and, though the most acute 
critical taleats, aided by profound erudition, 
have be^i employed in its illustration, they have 
not entirely removed the obscurities which anti- 
quity hadi spread over its sacred pages. The 
idea that the BiUe is easily understood, flatters 
the sdf^suffici^icy of ignorance and fanaticism ; 
but the great difficulty attending its interpretation 
is a fact too palpable to. be denied, except by 
those who are benighted in the mists of prejudice, 
or who have never doubted, only because they 
havenever inquired. It can be no easy mattw to 



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explain a volume by much the most ancient in 
the world, including compositions on various sub- 
jects and of different character, historic, poetic, 
and prophetic, alluding to events of which no 
contemporary records exist, referring to manners 
and customs wholly dissimilar to ours, and writ- 
ten in a language remole from European phrase 
and idiom, and which, moreover, has ceased to be 
vemacidar for more than two thousand years. 

Of all the Hebrew writings, none present greater 
obstacles to the expositor than the book of Eccle- 
siastes. Together with the obscurities which it 
Ims in cofiWi(H9i/ ^tb the otbar Jewish canonicsfl 
S^^Hpture^, it poiscfsses some peculiar to HBfUl; 
^4, ^tb respect to the style of the work^ the 
ia:(tbpr's design^ tbie nature of his aigumeift, .MtA 
the .^heon of hia t easotti|ig, the opinions of mtks 
ai^- commentators have div«i^ed to utihorediUe 
distance* ThebMOok, howe^ier, has. descended to 
wi a$ a paprt of the Yolumie of Inspi^tion, which 
is a sufficient guarantee, that it contains nodifaig 
unworthy liie Source from which it springs, and 
that' itif taid^Eicy is, when propedy understood, 
to cherish tli^ sacred principles of mondity and 
vdigion. S<nne pattsoiges, it must be aefcnaw«^ 
l^dgtsd, Mem, at ^e first glanoe, to reciHwnencI 
^iewreai^' enjoyments^ and to itbimtenMice 
atheistic folly; biirt, ^emi^rest aBSttred,:ibeiievare 
BOiK audi in reality, and that wbfiteirer afpemr$ 


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eonttarj; to piety a&d virtue^ ames aoldiy fiw»r 
our loisaffiiPeheQsioii. Btuch as the fi€€lenastfl» 
laite bimak p^pverted by am^uidiistSt amd rkUeuM^ 
¥; pftMfwe wits, if k^be a pwtof Holy JSkniptvrev 
it omH admit a fnU and ample yukUcatiiMi^ 

A cpritipal ioqwvy^ thcorefor^ into its scope aad 
meaning ¥^ fa%hly important, in order to rilenofe 
tb^cavik of the scomw, dud to sadisfir the wana^ 
I^ea of the religiously cUspoaed. Th^re hav^ 
indeed^ been no want of expositMs; but their 
labomrs ba¥e not been altogether auccesafolr aii » 
abundantly proved by their widdy*diffiwettt viewa 
of the book> which swve rather to peiptoi.tha» to 
a«9i0t;the mqmr«. NotwiUkstan^Ung what hU 
been hitherU> d(me» somethii^i^ alBl waatfa^..t» 
it«( com^te ittustrc^on : to thii coftyiction^ at 
least, is owii^; the presaiit performaince, in die 
coimnmcement of which it may be piop« to 
premwe some general obanrfations* ' 


fn^ AvtwLom <ir tun hotna. * '^ 

The author m wptesaly styled^ in tte initiflitiiry 
vetidtt '' tbe^JSK)n of IMyid». king in: : Jematoi,'' 
and in the twelflh verse bie> i» deaeribtda^ .^^ hing 
over Israel^ in Jemsalfm*" Theie passages are 


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found in every known manuscript, and in all tike 
amciait vemons ; and Solomon, as is wdtt known, 
was the only son of David who ever reined in 
Jerasalem. Hie book has thus been admitted 
into the sacred canon of the Jews as the produc* 
tion of Solomon, to whom it has also been 
ascribed by a r^ular and concurrent tradition. 
A collateral proof arises from the contents of the 
wcHrk itself, in which the author is stated to have 
excelled in wisdom beyond all who were before 
him in Jerusalem, (chap. i. 16^ ii. 15, xii. 9,) and 
to have composed many Proverbs; (chap. xii. 9;) 
circuiMtances descriptive of Solomon, and of no 
othar persons^e whose name is recorded in the 
Hdy Scriptures. The writer is likewise repre- 
sented as abounding in wealth and treasure, in 
palaces, gardens, retinues, and other articles of 
d^ant and royal luxury, extremdy ap]dicable 
to Sdiomon, during whose r^n the throne of 
Israd was surrounded with all the pomp of 
Asiatic spl^idour and magnificence. 

Strong as this evidence is for ascribing the 
work to Solomon, it has been questioned, not 
only by the infidel Voltaire, but by several Chris- 
tian vmters of great learning and cdebrity. 
Grotius^ Hermann von der Hardt, Dathe, Jahn, 
Eichhom, and Doederlein, have advocated the 
opinion, that the Ecclesiastes is not the pro- 
duction of Solomon, but of some writer in a 


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subsequ^t age ; and, if we may bdieve Professor 
Dathe, the two latter have estaUished this point, 
by arguments so weighty, that none, except rery 
stnblxmi defenders of ancient traditions, can 
deny it.* Hie scq>tical Sender pronounces it a 
matter of doubt, whether it be the production of 
the Hebrew monarch, or of some writw of a 
later age, who assumes his character.f Without 
bowing with implicit d^erence to the authority 
of these learned Garmans, let us collect and 
review the principal argumaits of the above- 
named critics; and, should they be found, upcm 
an impartial examination, not to be invincible, we 
need not hesitate to acqufesce in the generally 
received opinion, that Solomon was the author of 
the Ecclesiastes. 

I. Objection. '^ Solomon was not the author, 
because the Rabbins attribute it dther to Heze- 
kiah, or Isaiah, the most distinguished contem- 
porary of that monarch.''! Hns statement is 
undoubtedly agreeable to the common interpreta- 
tion of the Talmudical langus^e, which the reader 
wUl find in the mai^;5F but nothing more may, 

• Dalldi F€nio JUL imC. «. te Eeckt. 

f Semleri Apparalbu i» Vei. Ted. p. 20S. 

t Voltaire, PHlMopk. Did. art Sdomon. 

f The words of the Tahnodists are, rhnp Cf'yVSfn n*V *^ttm 
WPm^ 11119 injr*D1 mptn, EaechiasetcoetasejasscripsenintEsaiam, 
Proverbia, Caiiticaiii» et Eccletiafltai.— JBaoa BolAr*. c. 1, foL 15, a. 
And in ShtUhdHh HakkabtOah, fol. 66, b. we read, that Isaiah wrote 
^T)Of his own book, Proverbs, Canticles, and Ecclesiastes. 


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Vi FR«|;IliINARY [S£CT» I. 

p^bs^, be fiAeaaty than 4hat tim !l^cle$iiaat^ was 
inserted into ike ceiK)n of Scripture by Isai^ or 
Heiekiah, not tbat it wac^ writt^i by eitb^ cf 
them; or, it may only intims^ that, though 
Solomtott was the author of the book, it was %i4 
eoimnitted to writii^ by ik^m, it hftvvig be^ 
previondy handed down by oral tradition; ^, 
the meaniqg may only be, t^ 1h«$^ eminent 
men copied the book, and dissesninaJM ^Btitbful 
transeriiits of it atocHf^ the people^* In jsoiiie 
sHck way the words of tiie Talmudi^ts ber^ 
refisnred to must be explained ; lor it is etsdwhfre 
exprasdy asserted, that S<^om(m was the auidior.t 
And tins is con&rmedby its being placj^.ui,^ 
canoAas his work, which is iu^pntable evid^ttee^ 
that he was believed to be the audiOT by^ the aa*^ 
cient Jews. It would not have been transmitted 
to pos^rily as Ins work, inso sacred amamter, 
except it had. bea) a^oiibed lo him by aniwi* 
versal consent There co^ld be no reason:!^ 
pahniiBg a. spwio'us book upon tb^ wort4 for 
Solamoafs, no motWe for a^h^ting; itj tahhn 
lUsdiy; ot, if thia had; been altemp*^> the 
deceit would have been immediately dAtbf^s^i as 
the light of inspiration and prophecy was not 

* Waehner, JnHq. Heb, sect. 1, cap. 80. Si^non, Criti^iu de UBibUoik, 
du ^Pm, voL iv. p. lOZ. Wolf, BibUotheeti. Behraa, vol. ii. p. 117. 
Carpxov, IntrodMctio ad Ub, Uibl, par. ii. cap. 4, i 4. Oray, JEey U^Hu 

t Seethe authorities in Wolf, BihUotK Hib. vol. ii. p. 121. Carpsov, 
hUrod, ad Lib. Biblicos, par. iL cap. 4» § 4. 


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extudgnkdied tiU after the return fiKxn the Baby* 
Ionian captnrtey ; . and, subsiequenttljr to that ey^it, 
the v«neinutio9 of tiie Jews for their Scr^teres 
ft&^bad»B the p03(ubility of any designed altera* 
tion in tlie canon^ Its rectf^on into the caaott* 
liierjBfore, at the {nrodaction of Solomon, conld 
only have proceeded from its being known t^ be 
his w6rk by those who, as to this eircmnstaiicfi 
were incapable either of deceiving, or of being 

II. Ol^, '' The Beelesiaates cannot 1^ snpi^ 
posted to be the production of 8oloaion, bfecaase 
the style k very different from that pf l|is acknow-> 
ledged wrififpigs.'^''^ Without all^fing thai arg»« 
menta- drawn ' frcm differfmce of atyle Msfr npoii 
pre^aniouii gvMmds; we may fidmittbe&ct^'wlifle 
we deny the inference attempted to jbe deduced 
from it. By comparing the book with the Pro- 
verbs and Canticles^ the compttent aofaohur oulist, 
I think, perceive sooiediveri^ in language. amdl 
pkraseokgy ;* butil would be imfidrtoiofer^froni 
thi|^ ciipcumstance^ that tbey have not-miattaiad 
froitt l^e same mund. Iniercoume with foreigneni; 
Qow studies^ advanVwg y^arei, achange^inihabitcr 
of thinMng; in^ indinatfams s^ desires, wtth a[ 

^ ; ' ■ ■ i. .■ - . .^ r .«• ', 

* Eichhom, Eitileiiwug in doM AUe TeMfimeni^ § dS8. In isef^nmg to 
Eichhorn, I am indebted to the kindness Of a ffiend, who has fkvooml' 
me with a translation of snch parts of the EinUihmg as relate to 
tMlMfkof Eccletiartei.. See aliil J; B. ^an der FaUn, JHm. 4^JAb* 
EcckB, p. 44. / . 


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multiplicity of other circumstances, contribute to 
the alteration of style; sothatthelatestproductioi^ 
of the same parson are not unfrequeatly wholly 
dissimilar, in the external dress and colouring, to 
those which have beai composed in early life. The 
diversity of style, in the present instance, is not of 
such a kind as necessarily leads us to attribute 
than to different authors. It may be accounted for 
partly from the different nature of the subjects ; the 
Canticles abounding in saitiments of love and 
sensibility, in images of pastoral poetry replete 
with mystic significance : the Proverbs consistii^ 
of short saitentious maxims, designed to impress 
the memory by their beauty and terseness; and 
the Ecclesiastes being a regular philosophical 
disquisition ; and partly from the two first having 
heeai written in the prime of life, and the last in 
the vale of yeajrs. 

According to the tradition of the Jews^ the " 
book of Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon in 
his old age, after he had repented of Us fwmer 
vicious practices, and had become, by sad expe- 
rience, fully convinced of the vanity of every thing 
terrestrial, exc^t piety and wisdom.* Mmkj 
parts of the work itself corroborate this tra- 
dition. The acknowledgment of numerous follies 
and delusions implies, that it was composed 

* Jerom, in JBoctet. i. 12. Hoet Danoiiil/ Evangd. prop. iy. p. S46. 
MicliaeUs, Naiig Uberiore$, Praf. § S. 


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after the author had apostatized from Jehovah, 
aiMl had ^ibsequ^itly repented of his past mis- 
conduct. The frequent assertion of the ^nptiness 
of earthly greatness ; the declaration that human 
^oym^its are unsatisfactory ; the enumeration 
of gardens, edifices, and possessions, requiring a 
l<mg life for their completion ; th6 deep condem- 
ns^on of former pursuits ; the expression of satiety 
and di^ust at past pleasures; and the tone of 
cool and philosophical reflection which pervades 
the whole, are strikingly characteristic of an ad- 
vanced period of life; and the producticm of a 
king, bowed with the infirmities of age, wearied 
with the pomp of royalty, sated with luxury, 
humbled with a s^ase of past guilt, and prosteate 
in penitence, can scarcely be similar in style to 
those of the same monarch in the vigour of health 
and manhood, and buoyant on the full tide of 
popularity and glory. 

III. OJ;. " The proper name of Sermon is 
not prefixed to the book, as in the Proverbs and 
Canticles."* This can be no valid objection, so 
long as he is designated to be the author by 
another unequivocal title; and there may have 
becoi reasons for the omission with which we are 
not acquainted. As thi^ answer is perfecAy 

* Hermann yon der Hardt, J>e £i&ro KiMfiK 


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satisfactory, it canROt be necessary, and may be 
presumptuous, to attempt to account for the 
autkor^notmentioninghispropername; butitis,at 
least, no improbable conjecture, that, as the word 
Solomcm signifies /^eoc^^ the omission of it m^ht be 
iatimded to intimate, that he had fc^rfeited hisname 
of peace, since, by his former transgression, he had 
troubled Israel; (1 Kings xi. 14, 23;) and as the 
name Koheleth, or Preacher, is derived from his 
custom of addressing assembled auditories, he 
might design, by the assumption of this title, to 
declare himsdf a true penitent, and a sincere ad- 
vocate of religion. As, notwithstanding his former 
vices, he was now become a real convert, and a 
zealous preacher of righteousness, there seems 
a peculiar propriety in selecting an appellation 
expressive of this circumstance. 

IV. Ohj. ** Foreign, and particularly Chaldaic, 
expressions occur in the book, which evince its 
origin in an age later than that of Solomon.'** From 
the great importance attached to this objection by 
the advocates of the late competition of the book, 
they appear to consider themselves as having here 
occupied unassailable ground ; it is, nevertheless, 
untenaUe, as must be evident from &e consider- 
ation, that words and inflections pronounced by 

• Grotim, ^niUgvm. Ir Etidn. Etcfahorn, Emfi^ihitv, § 668. 


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some critics to be Arameani are discovered in 
books deoidedly more andeat than Solomon. 
Granting, therefore, the existence of some ejqpres- 
sions bearing the impression of a for^gn stamp, 
this will be no proof of its being a production 
of so late a date as the Babylonian captivity; 
especially as it would be so easy, in the present 
instance, to account for thdr introduction, since 
Solomon might have acquired them by conver- 
sation with ihe matty foreign women whom he 
loved; (1 Kings xi. 1^ 2;) or they mig^t have 
been imported in the intercourse which subsisted 
at that period between the Israelites and the 
neighbouring nations** 

But we may go farther, and fairly question whe- 
ther the objection be founded in &ct. Although 
a few words used by the author of the Ecde* 
siastes occur nowhere else, except in the Chaldee 
part of Daniel and in the Targums, none have 
been produced in form and inflection miefmhooalfy 
Chaldaic ; and, for any thing that appears to the 
contrary, they may have beat pure Hebrew 
words, in femiliar circulaticm while that language 
continued to be vemaculsu*. That word» em- 
ployed by any of the Old Testament waiters are 
foimd in the sister dialects, is no argument against 

* 1 Kings iv. 24, 34, x. 24, 2S, 28. 2 Chron. i. 16, U. 14, 2S, 24, 26. 

Pococke, N0tet in Porta Mosii, p. 151 , ed. Twells. Hnet, Dem, Evangel 
prop. Iv. p. 247. 


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thek parity, for this is very often the case with 
such as are confessedly genuine Hebrew. Neither 
are the axa{ Xeyo/icm, or words occurring only once, 
any evidence of a foreign origin ; they are dis- 
coverable in almost every book of the Old 
Testament, and only serve to demonstrate the 
immense wreck which the Hebrew language has 
sustained in the lapse of time. 

Chaldaisms, in fietct, supply no sure criterion 
to determine the late origin of a work in which 
they are found; for Hebrew, Syriac,< Chaldee, 
and Arabic, having emanated from one common 
source, the higher we ascend, the greater will be 
the resemblance.* Hence the numerous dialec- 
tical coincidences which have been observed in 
the book of Job, the most ancient of all the 
canonical writings. 

In i^ort, the argument I have been combating 
is completdy hollow and unsound. It can 
neither be proved, that the author of the Ecclesi- 
astes has used words or phrases which are not 
pure Hebrew, nor, if it could, would it be con- 
clusive evidence against ascribing it to the royal 
son of David. It is not required, therefore, to 
ent«r into a minute examination of the words 

* Micliaelis, NoL el Epim» in Lowtkf p. 200, Oxon. 1810. Bistiop 
Magee, On Atonement^ No. 59. 


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which have been pointed out as indicative of an 
age postaior to Solomon's; but a brief review of 
them is given in the subjoined note, from which 
it will further appear, that the objection is entirely 

* Of the foor words pronoonced by Orotivt to be Ibralgiiy and bo« 
pure Hebrew, oamely, ^0, n JVIM, *)VB» X^'^h only two can at aH be 
considet^d as belongUig to his argument ; for the first oecnrs Eiod. ziri. 
%, and the second may be derived from a genuine Hebrew root, as may 
be seen in the following note to ch. xii« 6. The two last only occnr ch. 
viii. 1, and z. 8, and, tliongh they are fonnd in Chaldee, thi^ may like- 
wise be Hebrew^See CaloTius, Prokg, t» Ee€k$, ; Bossnet, Prtf. in 
EccUm, ; Hnet, %t mpra ; Fhidlay, VMUMm qfike Stund BmIcs, par. iii. 
§ 4, p. 4T] ; Witsins, MiiceL 8m. h i. cap. 18, § M ; Carpsov, ItUfd. «d 
Lib. BibL par. ii. cap. 5, § 2.) Eichhom has been more copions in his 
appeah than Grotins, and notices the following words as modem or 
Aramsean. 1. ^tt^3 in-ch. viii. IT. Bat it occnrs in Jonas i. 7, IS ; it 
is a compound particle, and is found nearly in the same form in Canticles 
iii. 7. S. T\^n ch. ii. S2; which occurs, however, in Job, Proverbs, and 
often in the Psalms. 8. pl^ ch. iv. S, 8 ; a contraction for TUTt If, 
which is used in Genesis, &c. 4. 1139 a particle only occurring in the 
Ecdesiastes, yet it betrays no marks of a Chaldaic or foreign forme 
5. pitt^Sy like the former, only occurs in the Ecdesiastes, at the same 
time it has all the appearance of being pure Hebrew. 0. nil Dlf 1 
and nil |Vf ly which occnr nowhere else, but the roots are of frequent 
occurrence. 7. *]7MDn, a fniett, ch. v. 6, and in this sense it occurs 
Malachi iii. 1. It is^ however, often applied to human agents, for which 
reason it cannot be inferred that a book, where it is found in the sense of 
a priesi, is of later origin than the age of Solomon. 8. CDJinB ch. viii. 
11 ; but, though it occurs Esther i. 20, and in the Chaldee of Daniel, why 
should we suppose it not to have been in use among the ancient Hebrews, 
since the form is not specifically Chaldaic? 9. CD^DllB ch. ii. 6; yet 
this occurs also in Canticles iv. 13. Such are the words instanced by 
Eichhom as being more modem than Solomon ; yet of these it may justly 
be said, Jint, that not one of them is indubitably, or even probably, of 
the Chaldaic form : secondly ^ some are aira^ Xfy. from which nothing 
can be concluded; and, thirdly , others 'are found either in Solomon's 
acknowledged writings, or in older books ; consequently, none of them 
can be evidence of the late composition of the Ecdesiastes. 

It is further observed by Eichhora, that the genius of the Chaldee 
language appears still stronger in the frequent compounded words with 


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xiv Preliminary [sect. i. 

V. Ohj. " The book contains some of the 
peculiar notions of the Pharisees and Sadducees, 
9gainst which it appears to be directed; and 
since these sects arose, as is genaraUy supposed, 
about the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, it cannot 
be allowed an earlier date."* This objection is 
built upon the assunq)tion, that the Pharisean and 
Sadducean notions are discoverable in it; an 
assumption resting upon no substantial basis. 
There appears, on the contrary, the stroi^est 
reason for bdieving, that it could not receive any 
colouring from the peculiar opinions of these 
sects; for, if it were adopted into the canon 
previous to their existence, the thing Is impos- 
sible; or, if afterwards, it is inconceivable tiiat 

%ie prefix B^, which, says he, coincides with the Chaldee !• One is 
surprised at such an obsenration from any Hebrew scholar, since it is as 
clear as the day, that the prefix tt^ is very common in the Psalms, and in 
Solomon's other productions, and is likewise found in Judges and Genesis. 
It certaihly occurs Anequently, about seventeen or dgh^^en times, in the 
Ecdesiastes, and Desvoeux thinks it is employed to form the parallelism 
of tiie versification ; (Philol. Obs. 1. ii. c. 1, § 2 ;) but, whatever may be 
thought of this conjecture, It would be uncritical to infer, from its fre- 
qnent occurrence, that the book vras not written by Solomon. There are 
idso, says Etchhom, other Chaldaic-like expressions; but he has given no 
examples, and other Oriental scholars cannot perceive in the book of 
Ecdesiastes any tiling, either in the style or composition, unsuitable to 
the age of Solomon. 

Zefkd, in his Vntermu^rnngen^ or Researches respecting the Preacher, 
pretends to discover some Greek expressions in the Ecclesiastes, which, 
however, is a palpable mistoke. See Jahn, Iniroducl. ud Vet. Teti. § 213. 

• Jahn, Introduct. ad Vtt, TetA. % 21S, 216. Bauer, Btmtm^ Sm. ^. 
Home, MroduUum to the Scrij^reSt voL iv. p. ItO, ed. 2d«. JLe Clerc 
apud Witsii Miacel Sac. vol. i. p. 227. 


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they would permit a work directed against them- 
selves to be inserted in the sacred canon. With 
as much reason might it be asserted, that the 
P^itateuch was levelled against the opinions of 
the Pharisees and Sadducees as the book of 

VI. Obf. " The name of Jehovah does not 
occur throughout the woric, which seems to refer 
its origin to the age of Alexander ; about which 
time the use of the Tetragrammaton was forbid- 
den."* Whenever the superstitious veneration 
for the name of Jehovah arose among the Jews, 
it is certain, that the pronunciation alone, not the 
writing of it, was forbidden, for it is found in 
some of the Chaldee paraphrases of a much more 
recent date. * 

VII. Obj. ^ Solomon cannot be the vnriter of 
the Ecclesiastes; for, if he were, in complaining 
as he does of oppressions, of unjust judgment, of 
the elevation of foolish si^rants to dignity and 
office, he would have condemned himself."t P^**- 
fection is unattainable in human institutions : in 
the best regulated governments, much vice, folly, 
and misery will exist; and, under the adminis- 
tration of Solomon, ^he wisest prince that ever 
swayed a sceptre, the great and powerful were, 

* J9bn, IntrodMct, §216. 
f Jahn, Iniro^hut, ut tupra. 


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doubtless, at times tyrannical, judges were often 
partial, and men were sometimes preferred to 
offices for which they were neither fitted by their 
talents nor their virtues. These evils, which the 
most consummate wisdom cannot entirely pre- 
vent, the king himself might lament, as well as 
any of his subjects, without being self-condemned. 
In these complaints, moreover, of oppression and 
ii^ustice, the royal philosophy may have had an 
eye to what was passing in surrounding states. 
A mind of such sagacity and research would ar- 
dently inquire into the manners and civil polity of 
other nations ; and it is not improbable, that his 
remarks on despotic cruelty and perverted justice 
may have referred to the conduct of governors 
beyond the boundaries of his empire. 

VIII. Ohj. " Had Solomon been the author, 
he would not have said, ' I was, or I am Ipng in 
Jerusalem,' as it would have been idle to affirm a 
fact so uniyersally known^."^ As well might it be 
argued, that the Proverbs are not the work of 
Solomon, because l^e calls him^lf, i^ the bj^. 
ginning, '' king of Israel." The mention of his 
exalted rank is, in both cases, probably made, 
the better to recommend his compositions to th,e 
attention of mankind ; for it has ever be^i found 
by experience, that the world is inclined to 

« Jahn, lntrodw:U ad F. T. nl n^Hti. 


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admire ihe productions of royal and noble au- 
thors, more particularly while the influence of 
their wealth and dignity remains unimpaired. 
This natural deference to rank and title would 
be much augmented in the present case, by 
characterizing the book as the work of that 
monarch, who was so renowned for knowledge, 
Mid whose wisdom contributed so much to the 
glory and happiness of his people. It is usual, 
likewise, with the sacred writers to describe 
themselves by personal titles snd characters, 
which must have been well known to their con- 
temporaries. Thus Isaiah denominates himself 
** the son of Amoz f J^emiah, " the son of Hil- 
ktah f Ezekid, " the priest;*' Hosea, *' the son o# 
Beeri ;'* Amos, ^* the herdman of Tekoa;" St. Paul, 
** the servant and apostle of Christ." As the ad-t 
dition of such personal designations, though not 
absolutely necessary, is very common, Solomon 
might, without impropriety, style himself " the 
son of David, king in Jerusalem." The assump- 
tion, then, of a tide, which not only might be 
used by S^omon, but in the use of which there is 
a; peculiar fitiotess, caimot form men a cotourable 
objeetion against his bdng the author of the 

!X. Ohf. ** The writer sfqrs, * I was king over 
Israel in Jerusalem;' (ch. i. 12;) but why is it 
added ' in J«rmaleiii,^ udiass tl^ book was 


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published when the kings of the Israelites had 
aaother royal residence, namely, Samaria?"* 
David reigned both in Hebron and in Jerusalem ; 
(2 Sam. ii. 11, V. 5; 1 Kings ii. 11;) but Solomon^ 
as it should seem, only in the latter city, which 
may possibly account for the place of residence 
being specified. Besides, it is somewhat absurd 
to infer, because the Preacher is said to he king 
in Jerusalem, that another king reigned at the 
same time in Samaria : with as much truth it might 
be concluded, that a contemporary king reign^ in 
any other place within the borders of Palestine. 
Solomon was king in, or at, Jerusalem ; that city 
was the metrop<^s of his kingdom ; there he k^ 
his court; there was the seat of his government; 
aad he might, with equal propriety, mention the 
I^iace of his royal resid^ce, as the fact of his being 
king over Lsra^ a title, as above shown, perfectly 
coixq>atible with his being the axiihpr of jthe bpok. 

X. Obf. ** In chapter iv. 15, allusion is made 
to Solomon's successor, and j to his inaUlity to 
govern the people. Now, supposing the work to 
be the production of Solomon, he must have 
foreseen, that his son would be unequal to the 
task of government; and, in that case, so wise a 
monarch, instead of vrishing him to be his suc- 
cessor, would have taken measures to enwre Ae 

• Doederlein, ScktUa in Eccla. p. 171. Eiciyion, JStiiMiii^', § 666. 


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succession of sofne fitter person to the throne of 
Israel. As he did not adopt liiis course, the only 
one consistent with the accounts which we have of 
his wisdom, it is concluded, that the Ecdesiastes 
was written in a subsequent period."* But, in 
the passage appealed to, there is, in all probability, 
no allusion to the successor of Solomon in the 
royal power ; it appears to be only a combination 
of general remarks upon the vanity of empire and 
dominion. Or, if even it should be thought to 
glance at Rehoboam, yet Solomon may be the 
auljior, as he might have wished his son to suc- 
ceed him on the throne, though he had foreseen 
his incapacity for govemm^at ; for how often is 
the judgment of the best and most enlightened 
men blinded by paternal afiection? Solomon, 
notwithstanding his distinguished wisdom, was 
far from being a perfect character. Nor would 
it be easy to prove, what the objection suppoMs; 
the utter incompetency of Rehoboam to sway the 
sceptre of Israel. Though his conduct, imme- 
diately after his accession, was the oeeasion of 
an extensive, lasting, and ruinous revolt, it was 
a conduct rather to be ascribed to ^lergy and 
vigour than to weakness and imbecility. H* 
took thne to deliberate, he asked counsd both 
from the old and youthful saiators; ai|d de- 
liberate consultation is not the characteriirtic of 

* Doederlein, SehoUa ui supra, Eichhorn, Etnleituitgf^ 6S8. 


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a weak and pusiUanimous mind. That his first 
measufes were disastrous is cartain; diat he was 
ill advised is not improbable; bat s«ch has beea 
th^ case with monarcfas who cannot jastly be 
charged with incompet^icy to hold the mns of 

XL Oif. '' The autiior says, ' I keep the 
king's coramandment,' (ch. viii. 2,) which could 
not come from Solomon, who was a king hiinsdf» 
and obeyed no ikionarch iqpon earth/'* This 
olyecti(m scarodly deserves notice^ as it rests 
upon a tmnslatioa of the original which is erro^ 
neousi though supported by the Vulgate; the 
true verrion being, *' I counsel thee to keep the 
king's commandment^" wfaare» by '' the king," is 
meant Jehovah^ who was, in a peculiw sense^ the 
king of the Israelites; consequently, the woid» 
contain an exhortation to rey^rence and obey 

XIL Okf. **Thebo<^ contains assertions in^ 
consistent with the wisdom of Solbmob; as^ for 
example^ that death is better than Mfe; (<^. iv. 2 ;) 
thiit the creatures of God are vain; (ch. i. 2, &c. ;) 
tlMU; nothing is prrferable to eating, and drinking^ 
and enjoying the pleasures of this worid ; (ch. ii» 24, 
iii. 12> 13» 22, r. 18, viii. 15, ix. 7, xi. 9;) that man 

* Hnet, Ihmmut. Evm^. prop. W. p. U8. See the foUowiag note 
on ditp. vMi. S. 


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hath no ad?antage over the beasts : (ch. iii* 18, 19 :) 
and some parts are contradictory to each other, 
as cb. iu. 19, compared with ch. xii, 7, which 
can scarcely be accounted for, on the aupposUaon 
of ite being the work of one man, much less of 
so wise a man as Solomon."* This objection is 
built upon a misconception of the scope and 
meaning of the book; it is unnecessary, how- 
ever, to examine, at pres^it, the particular pas* 
sages ref&rred to, as the foUowmg parsqihrase and 
notes, it is confidently b^eved, wiU convince 
the atieotive reader, that no real contradictions 
exiftt, nor a siBtgjke aentenoe which militates against 
its divine authcrity. When the design of the 
author is considered, and the chain of reasoniqg 
is attended to, evary part a|4[>ear8 consistent, 
harmonious, and admirable; the argument is 
80imd, the sentiuients pious, the observatioBs 
highly valuable, the subject most important, and 
the effi^ct of the whole is to excite &ail man to 
the love, and study, and practice of celestial 

XIIL 0^\ ''The<wniter describes himself as 
rkh^ thim all those who were before him in 
Jerusalem (ch. li. 7.) Now a kiug can only com- 
pare himseltf wi& kinga, for it would be degrading 
to dmw a paralld between himself and private 

• Jerom, in Eeeles, 12, IS. Bauer, HermemtU* S^cra^ ^ 64. Voltaire, 
PftOoMtiJb. l>ic*« art SokNWMi; and other wiiten. 


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men ; but how could Solomon speak of many^ 
when David was the first who placed in Jerusa- 
lem the throne of the Hebrew empire ? The author 
of the Ecclesiastes, therefore, lived in alater s^e."* 
Solomon however might, without derogation, com- 
pare himself vnth foreign kings, as such a compa- 
rison is made by the sacred historian; (1 Kings 
X.23;) and there are grounds for believing, that 
many princes actually reigned in Jerusalem previ- 
ous to the Israelitish monarchs. Jerusalem is, 
probably, the same city which is called Salem, 
where Melchisedeck was king ; and, before its 
subjugation by David, it was in the possession of 
the Jebusites, (Joshua xv. 8, 63 ; Judges i. 21,) 
who certainly were ruled by supreme governors^ 
or kings, for express mention is made of one who 
was both a Jebusite and a king (2 Sam. xxiv. 18, 
22.) Nor is it easy to discover what indignity it 
could be, supposing Solomon merely wished to 
draw a parallel between himself and persons of 
inferior rank. Would not his wealth and magni- 
ficence be the more apparent fi*om the contrast? 
Nay, is there not a peculiar fitness in the observa- 
tion, that he had wealth and possessions above all 
before him in Jerusalem, when we consider the 
superb mansions he built, the magnitude and 
splendour of the temple he erected, the brilliancy 
of his court, the state and royal luxury which 

« Eichhorn, Einleitung, ^658. 


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surrounded him ? With equal propriety he might 
describe himself as having gotten more wisdom 
than all who had been before him in Jerusalem, 
(cfa. i. 1^) since the fame of his knowledge had 
£^ead throughout every adjoining realm. Both 
passages, indeed, are so evidently in character, 
and so suitable to the circumstances of the wise 
monarch, that they in no small degree confirm 
the opinion which attributes this production to 

XIY. Obj.. *^ Hie expressions, ' of making 
many books there is no end,' and ' much study 
is a weariness of the flesh/ (ch. xii. 12,) are incom- 
patible with the character and circumstances of 
ike SolcHUonic age, in which the oxist^ice of miany 
bool^, OTipfaiNrevailii)^ inclination to study, caur 
mot he^uppQsed/'* Eichhom, by whom, the ob- 
jection, is advanced, supplied the answer himself, 
in , observing, that, ^* under. Solomon, when the 
Hdbrews arrived at a period to ei^oy their late 
victories, sudi wisdom as this book teaches might 
b^^ve gained a foundation;" for, in that case, many 
would addict themsdves to speculation, the result 
of which would be a gradually increasing number 
ol" publications. It is consopant with reaspnto 
suf4fK>se, that many books actuaUy exid^4 ^ the 
period of which we are spe;aking. It was an age 

* Eichhqniy iM. 


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of internal peace and tranquillity, when the arts 
that contribute to the elegance and refinemeM of 
society ware greatly improved ; circumstances^ ex- 
tremely favourable to the cultivation of Hterature. 
The monarch himself was, for tiiese times, a vo- 
luminous author ; and this bright example of royal 
ardour in the cause of letters Would be eagerty 
followed by many who neither possessed big wis- 
dom, nor his inspiration. 

Yet it is very doubtful, whether the words of the 
preacher above quoted really imply tlw multipli- 
cation of books in thatage. It is, in my judgment, 
more natural to interpret them of the posHMHty 
of writing innumeraUe books upon die topieJs cKs^ 
coursed upon in this treatise of the royal phHoso- 
phar, aad yet with little utflity, since all iUdp^nrtemt 
truths relating to them may be comprehended 
widiin narrow Iknits. Or the obs^rv^tiott may be 
meant comparatively, namely, read aia^ i^oedttate 
in the pages of ini^iration more than in books of 
mere human composition, which may bemuitipUed 
wiAout end, and of which an over-smjdous study 
wearied and impairs tiie bodily powers. 

Such are the chief reasons which have been 
brought forward t!^inst ascribmg 1S^ EcdiN^- 
aates to Solomon ; and they are manifest fef 
from overthrowing the evidence adduced for its 
being the genuine production of that monarch. 


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They are mere planmbilities ; and, howerer mul- 
tipMed, wciild still be outbalanced by a single 
grain of historical testimony. So weak, indeed, 
and futile are they, that it might be sufficient to 
reply to them g^ierally, that th^ ar^ drawn from 
mt^nal probabilities, or from the ^yie and phra- 
seology, and that no argmment of this description 
can be admitted against positive evidence. The 
work is expressly ascribed to the philosophic son 
of David, in the first and twelfth verses of the first 
chapter; it has been admitted into the Jewish 
canon as his production, which would not have 
be^i the case, unless und^^nable grounds had 
existed. for ascribing it to him; and it has been 
blinded down as his by a r^idmr tradition, as 
appears from the consent of manuscripts and ver- 
sions, and from the concurrent voice of antiquity. 
It would, therefore, be injudicious, it would be 
dangerous, it would be irr^igious to desert this 
combinied tesdiQiony for bold assertion and 
ingenious conjecture. 

f To dkregard or reject sudi a body of evidence 
would be attended with consequences the most 
detrimental to the interests of r^ealed re%ion., 
Were aiiy book enrolled^ among the Holy Scrip* 
tures fKS sadred, while it was only a mere human 
procbicfion, and ascribed to an author by whom* 
it was not written, how could this be reeencile- 
able with the infallibility of the word of God, 


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wkh tbe enrtence of diTine inspirsrtioii, m^b the 
fi^Hrit of prophecy, which conlmued wsong the 
Jews till the compl^on of dieir canon ? Such 
a cireiuBStaaoe is ao inconsistelit with the idea of 
a diTine eoimmuMcatioii, and with the design of 
sdecting the Hebrews to be the d^>ositories of 
the Oracles of God, that, were it induMtably 
prored, the whole superstructure of rcTelotion 
would totter to its fall* The authority of the 
canon would be much.ctiminbhed, were it to carry 
upon its very front a palpable mistake ; the con- 
viction of one error might reasonably excite a sus- 
picion of the ejsistence of many others ; and that 
collection of writii^ which muirt be weeded and 
ciurtailed, before its universal canonicity can be 
^owed, would be ^ititled to little reverence or 

Thare is gone abroad, at the. present day, and 
particulariy in modem Germany, a i^irit of rash, 
presumptuous literature, which tends, in its daring 
progress, to overthrow every thing holy and vener- 
aUe. It presumes to penetrate the veil which 
sejMurates ^e sanctuery of heaven from mortal 
vifioon, and subjects to its polluted touch the 
hallowedrealitiesof our rdigion. Tmtibis hitherto 
deaned sacred, opinions oossecratedbytimeand 
universal reception, and doctrines revared as tii^ 
essenceof celestialrevelation, are (HToucUy trampled 
upon in the desolation of its march. Yet our 


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age has many redeenung virtaes, which forbid aa 
to look at the state of religion with a desponding 
eye. If the 'pride of uncfaastised literature baa 
borne an extensiye sway, orthodoxy has to hoaol 
of cfawnpions never MDeelled forimtdleclaal ability 
and profundity of erudition. Their efibrts.haire 
been noble, their success incalculable, so that we 
may anticipate the period when philosophy shall 
be no longer exalted into the throne of revealed 
religion, and when its meteorous rays shall be 
extinguished by the effulgwoe of Scripture truth. 
And, to hasten this happy event, let all who are 
called to joinister the word, study the sacred 
writings with pious and rever^t attention, 
devoutly praying for ^at iUuminatiooi from above, 
without which, leammg becomes mert, and all 
human ^orts are inefiectual. 

As askciait institutiona are not only venerable 
for thdb* antiquity, but are commonly suited to 
the character and circumstances of the people 
amoB^ whom they exist ; so opinions which have 
been generally received, for a series of ages, are, 
for the most l^art, founded in eternal and immut- 
able truths It is but little consistent with wu^ 


dom to indulge a reforming spirit, in r^^d to 
ancient establishments, except the .necessity be 
urgent tod tibie improvement evident ; it is equally 
remote from sound judgment to reject lc»ig 


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prevailing opinions without the most substantial 
reasons ; and as, in the present instance, no valid 
arguments have been produced to the contrary, 
v^e may, v^ithoqt'hesitation, concur in the almost 
universal belief that Solomon v^as the author of 
the Ecclesiastes. 


Canonical Authority of the Ecclesiastes. 

It iis related, that the Rabbins had once a 
d^ign to degrade the book of Eeclesiastes, as 
well as the PrdveSfbs and Canticles, into the num- 
ber of apocryphal writings, on account of some 
contradictions and immoral s^itiments which, 
they imagined, it contained ; but, upon more ma- 
ture consideratibn, they admitted it as canonical 
Scripture.* Even some Christian divines and 

^, ' * M^9inpu>iii^8, More Nev^K par.ii. cap. 38. Wolf^ BHiUoth. Btb. 
vol. ii. p. 122. . CarpzoT, Iniroduct, ad Lib* BibL par. iL cap. 6, § 7. The 
i^ord nsed b}' the Rabbins is I^J, a5fcoiida^e, a^oiipvirrcv, to plate ainmng 
ike iffwryplyd, bophx, to deciare apocryphal ; but Bishop Manb, in a note, 
to MichaeHs*B Introduction to the N. T, cap. iii. § 1, affirms, that tJ J does 
not mean^ apocryphal, as we understand the word, for the ancient Jews 
never doubted th^ divine authority of the Proverbs, Solomon's Song, or 
Ecclesiastes;" and that *' it was applied to books divinely inspired, and 
included in the sacred canon." The word U3i, it is true, does sometimes 
denote those parts of the canonical Scriptures which were only forbidden 
to be read ; (Castel, LexJHept, in voc, ;) but the reason given for the Jews 
wishing \w to conceal or lay ande the Eceleiiastes, namely, that it 


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Clitics have doubted or denied its divine authority. 
Its canonicity, however, rests upon unimpeach- 
able grounds.' Solomon had twice witnessed the 
especial presence of God; (1 Kings iii. 5, ix. 1, 
xi. 11 ;) he was endowed by the Most High with 
inspired wisdom, to govern the people over whom 
he reigned; (1 Kings iii. 5 — 14, iv. 20;) he was 
iiimished with all outward means for the success- 
ful prosecution of his natiiral and moral inquiries ; 
(2 Chron. ix. 22 ;) he was educated from his ten- 
der years by. his pious father and the prophet 
Nathan; (Prov. iv. 3, 4; 2 Sam* xii.,25; 1 Kings . 
i. 11 ;) and was likewise himself gifted vdth the 
prophetical spirit; (1 Kings iii. 5, et seq. vi. II, 
12, ix. 1, et. seq. xi. 9 — 11 ;) and can it be sup- 
posed, that the illumination of the Spirit forsook 
hkn in the composition of a work destined to be 
enrolled among the Oracles of God, and intended 
to afford religious instrUctioii to every succeeding 

That the divine authors of the New Testament 
have liot given it their infallible sanction by direct 
appeals to it, as an inspired writing, must be 
acknowledged; and though, periiaps, no instance 
can be produced > where they have indisputably 
alluded to it, there are, nevertheless, passages 

contained contradictions and immoralities, seems to imply rejection from 
the canon. The observations in my Translation of Proverbs, Prel. Diss* 
p. xxviii, are applicable to this question. 


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where they seem to have had it in view.^ It was 
inserted, however, in that canon which recdived 
the apfNTOval and ratification of our Messed Lord, 
(Lfuke xxi¥. 44,) a circumstance completely estate 
lidiing its canonical authority; and formed a part 
of that Scripture which, St. Paul affirms, was 
^' giv^i by inspiration of God, and is profitable for 
doctrine, for reproof, for correctiMi, for instruction 
in righteousness." (2 Tim. iiL 16.) This testimony 
is completely decisive; nor will it make any dif- 
ference in the Apostle's asserticm, if thepassagie 
be rendered, agreeably to the opinio^ of several 
critics^, '^ All ins|>ired Scripture is provable," &c.; 
for in these ^icpressions he must be understood to 
speak of the Jewish canonical Scriptures,> the 
whcrfe of which' are thus pronounced to be in- 
spired. But the correctness of the authorized 
version, " All Scripture is given by inspiration of 
God," may be abundanUy vindicated ; and thus 
we have apostolic and infallible evidence to the 
divine inspiration of the whole Old Testament.! 

* The itillowhif tible of references is given by Carpsoy, Itdreduci, 

£ccles.».i, with Jobi iii. 6. 
▼.l,iU.14,Matt adL 86. 
i. S» 8, Rom. vtii. 20. 
z. 80^ Rom. ziiL 8. 
3Ki.l,S, 8 Cor. iz. 9, 18. 
▼. l4, 1 Tba^ yU 7. 
adi. 11, Mattndli. 84. 
John X. 11, 14. 

Ecclet. yU. 16, with Matt ▼!. 84. 

xii. 14, Rom. ii.6,etse^. 
xL 0, lCor.iv.9,8€or. 

V. 10. 
vit 17, Rom. xft 8. 
vii. 4, 3 Cor. wu. 18, 11. 
idL 18» ] Tim. t $. 
▼il. 81, 1 John i. 8. 

t See Dr. Findlay, Dimne InBpiraHmi ^tke Old Tfttmeid tMerttd bff 
m. Paa, 8 Tim. iU. 16. f>r. Biomileld, Dim. m Ubtf fWNNlibiMi Knmff- 
Uig* ^m RedemMT^ p. 184. Bishop Middleton's Doctrine of (he Oredi 
Article, p. 666. 


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Of the Title Koheleth. 

The Hebre^fft title assumed by the . author of 
l^e book is rfmp, Kokdetk, respecting the mean- 
ing of which various opinions have prevailed 
among the learned. Lud. de Dieu explains it 
by the assistance of the Syriac kuhaltko, which 
signifies exclanuUion; and he thus makes the in- 
scription of the book to denote, ^* the words of 
the voice of one exclaiming/' comparing it with 
the title assumed by Jolm the Baptist (John J. 23.) 
But, were this interpretation of the Syriac. word 
correct^ which isy periiaps, doubtful, it would not 
coi^rm the notion of de Dieu, as the Hebrew 
root ^np, kahal, nowhere conveys a meaning 
analogous to the Syriac kuhaltho. 

Grotius renders Koheleth by "collector,'* 
owraBpoumic, which, he supposcs, 'Was int^ided to 
denote, ths^ the various opkuoius conceriHi^ 
happiness of such as have been reputed wise are 
cdlected together in this book ; an mteF]pretation 
completely indefensible, since the root kahal 
never signifies to collect things^ but to assemble 
men together for sacred, civil, or military purposes. 


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Nor is it true, that the dogmata of divers wise men 
are collected and delivered in the work, as the 
same argument is pursued throughout, and the 
several parts contribute to one and the same 

Some, preserving the radical idea of the term, 
und^tand it pai^ively, namdy, one re-united or 
gath^ed to the people of Grod,' thereby signifying. 
Solcmion's readmission to the chiffch, andrecon-. 
dliatibh withit, in consequence of his repentance-* 
This, hQW.ever, though according with* the mean- 
ing of the root, is inadmissable, inasmuch as 
Koheletkj agreeably to its grammatical !form,* 
caimot* be taken in\a passive sense. For this' 
reaisoii, namely, the acitive form of the word, we 
must reject the bpini(m of certain Rabbins,^ who 
affirm that.Sploinon.i^ deiiomifiktedi. KohektA,"* 
on account of the. wifedom which was ^oabund- 
, antly collected or accumulated iii him, npt by his 
own talents and assiduity, but by the divine 

D. Jo. Hen. Michaelis maintains, that. Solomon 
assumed the title, Koheleth, because hevn-ote the 
book for the purpose of recalling: erring mortals, 
from vain and unsatisfactory pursuits to a sacr^) 

* Cocceius, Comm, in loc. ^and Lex, HeKin voc. Cartwright, inJEccles, 
Bishop Reynolds, Comm, on Eccles. i. 1. Leigh, CriHca Sacra, in voc. 
t Carpzov, Iniroduct at Lib, BiH. par. ii. cap. 6, § 1. 


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reir^*^ce of God.* This^ exfrfanalicm nearly 
agrees vriih that fbnneiiy; proposed by the prot 
(randly^leamed I^htfoot, who says, ** After hi* 
great £aiU» Solomon recovereth again by repent^ 
$mce, and writeth this book of EcclesiaMcs, 6$ 
his pecidiar dii^e fw that his folly. . He caH^ 
himself in it Koheletk, or the Gatherit^mmlk 
either recollecting itself ^ or hy admanition gmtikrr 
ing others that go astray after vanity/'f In a 
similcur i:9dnn» the title is explained by FiAdlay, 
^ho jco^side^s it w^ accommodated to Si^cMHOH 
m this yrork, '' where his aim is tp unite wapderr 
ii)^ eioiid^t 6rom the pursuit of vanities to the pror 
secutibn of th6 supl^me good, and where he,.a|3 
it wei^ cuib a multitude togetbcfr, to hear and 
learn from him the path to true feUcity."J This 
gives a pleasing repres^stta^ion of the titie, bntis 
rather fanciAd than just, as no authority is pro- 
duced for attributii^ eithar to kakal, or its dte- 
rivatives, the sense of reclaiming from sin, and 
conducting to a new and holy life. 

The title Koheletk is considered by Desvoeux 
as equivalent to Sophist, according to its primitive 

* ^* Ceteram ideo hoc nomen •nmsisse videtur, quia honines TagalNiii- 
4dr1id-Deiini TQrsitt •jtniqnfe' timbrdu temgregatunift totmn lilbnun con- 
teripflit/insigiiifliac in 'parte Jesa Christi typns/'— MidutefiB, IftiUt 
Uikrwnt in Hugid^aphoa V. T. LibroB, 3 vols. 4t6, Hat». ITM, Pi^. 
\ 1. In the portion of this work relating to Ecclesia|te#, Michadi^was 
01^ author of the Prtface, the Nota hew^ written by Rambachivs ; but 
I always dte them Ui this work thns, " MicbaRKlit, N*t Uber" 

t Lightlbot, Works, vol. i. p. 76. 

t Fikidlay, VindicaUim ^ the Sacred Booke, p. 472. 


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Bonification; but as the tenn Sophist^ from 
being originally an honourable denomination, 
became at l^igth an appellation of reproach^ he 
prefers rendering it by the word " Orator," a» 
the nearest in signification to the original meaning 
of Sophist,* The conjecture, though certainly 
ingenious, is sdtogedier unsupported by scriptural 

Schultens, Schroeder, and Storr, having re- 
course to their favourite Arabic, consider Kahekth 
as properly signifying repentarhce^ and as used, by 
a metonymy, for a penitent person ;t an inter- 
pretation accurately descriptive of the state, cha- 
racter, and circumstances of Solomon, virhen he 
wrote the book ; but as the root kahalj though of 
frequent occurrence, never has any relation to 
penitence, this explanation of the derivative 
Kohdeth cannot be admitted. 

Simonis, appealing to the Arabic language, 
coiyectures that KoheUth means an old man, senexy 

* Desvoeux, PkiUfsophical and Criiicdl Essay <m EceUs. Obs. lib. ii. 
t«p. 8, ^ 2—7. 

t Schultens, Dwt. de UHlit^te Ditdeet. OrwU, p. 6. Schroeder, ImfU. 
Umg, Heb. Syntax. xxU. Storr, Observat, ad Anal, et Syntax. Heb. p. S66. 
Compare Cocceii Lex, Heb. ed. SchnU, in toc. The Arabic word ap- 
pealed to is ^^ exaruU cutis. Another exposition is mentioned ' by 
J. H. Tan der Palm, (Dus. de Lib. Eecles. p. 48,) '* qnam dedit ScHBiDfOS, 
cnjosqne mentio fit a cL Bonnet ; scil. secondnm banc n7np marcidwm 
et velnti eacsiccatum significat, qui omnia fuHdat atque aversahtr.** I have 
not seen the authors here cited by van der Palm. 


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Solomon havii^ written the book of Ecclesiaatei 
in his old age ; and that he takes to himsdf this 
name, with a feminine terminati(m, to inanimate 
the debilitated state of his mind, when he suffered 
himself to be drawn into idolatry by his wives,* 
An explanation so completely foreign from the 
undoubted signification of the root cannot dm- 
serve a refutation. 

The learned Professor Doederlein understands 
the term as denoting an academy of wise men, in 
which Solomon, probably, often discoursed; and 
hence the book may be so called by reascm of its 
containing orations delivered in this academy. 
Learned and philosophical assemblies, we know, 
have be^a frequent among the Orientals, and it 
is more than probable, that sometlnng of this 
kind existed at the court of Solomon; for if 
Eastern monarchs, as far as history carries us 
back, have always encouraged societies for litesary 
discussion, we must suppose, that such would 
be patronised by a kuig who excelled all the 
wisdom of Egjrpt and of the East. When it is 
also consida*ed, that the noun, hnp kahal means 
an assembly or congregation, and that several 

* Simonis, Lex, Heb, p. 1409, ed. Eichhorn. Thongh the Arabic 
words 1)4^ and V^^ to which he appeals, possess the signification of 
odotmeed age^ as may be seen in Castell, Lex. Hept. p. laSO, SSIO, aad 
Golins, Lex, Arab, p. 1859, 2075 ; yet phnp cannot be referred to them, 
as they are roots of different radical letters. It is singalar, that Simonia 
does not take notice of Kohdetk in his valuable OwmMUwm. 


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parts of the book wdl comport .with this inter- 
ptOtaAoa, it must be acknowledge^ to haj^e ;soiiie 
semblance of truth. Yet, upon a.neamer jnsp^:- 
tion, ve AdUl be compelled to renounce it, ainK^ 
some passages cannot be made to agree i^tli thki 
hypc^esis, as the initiatory expressions, *^ The 
words of the Preacher, the son of Pavid, king in 
Jerusalem," and, " I, the Preacher, am king over 
Israel, in Jerusalem," which cannot denote the 
acadany of Solomon, but plainly deisigaate tiiat 
royal parsonage himself.^ Nor does the tUle 
Kohdeth properly bdong to the treatbe itself, as 
this inteipretation supposes. Though tbe great 
refmmer, Martin Luther, in the Preface to his 
iGommentary on the £ccle&^astes, asserts that it 
is rather to be referred to the name of the book 
Ihan of t;he author, it must be evident, upon an 
examination of the places where it occurs, ikat 
it is apersojial des^ation applied to the ailtkbr 
Qf the book; and this is an insiqieraUe dbjecticm 
Jto 4he opinion advanced by Doederlein* 

Another interpretation has been brought for- 
ward by Sir John David Mich^teUs, an ^nthbr 
of vast erudition and undoubted genms, bul^ 
w^ose learning often bewildered his judgment, 
and whose genius frequently blazed with wild 
eccentricity. He takes Kohdeth to denote, him 

* See Scfaulz et Bauer, ProUgom, in Eccles, ^ 1. 


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who presides ov^ the assemUy or acadmny ai 
philosophers, the president and teadi^.^ Schools 
or collies, it is undeniable, existed among 
IheJewsin later ages ;t but that fixed aad en- 
dowed seminaries were estaUished ia the time 
of Solomon, or, indeed, previous to the Baby- 
loiuan captivity, is a coi\jectttre for which tkore 
is no foundation in the sacred writings4 Aca^ 
demies, with a president and teachens, are in-^ 
Imitations not adapted to the simjdidty of pri- 
mitive tunes; and if they had ^dsted at the 
period alluded to, some intimation would, pro- 
bably, have been given of them in the cuncum- 
stantial history of the Hebrew moBJurchs. Ab to 
Ibe %hools of tine Prophets, we are but .fittle 
aG^uainted with their nature ; yeif from the Am 
hints giv«i of them in Scripture, diey do not 
appear to haxre been regular aad endowed se- 
minaries.§ But, whatev^ mig^ be the nature 
of these institutions, we find not the least hint of 
Solomon's having been the president of sttdi a 
school ; and some circumstances respectmg the 
autbpr, particularly ch. i. 1, 12, and ch. ii. 4*^10^ 

* *' Cseterum earn denotat, qai coetui sen academite philosophorQin 

t See Ikenius, Antiq, Heb, par. i. cap. 6 ; Buxtorf, St/nag, Judoica, 
€ap. X.; jFeoBings, Jeum$h Atdiq^^Ues^VOi. U. cap. ^, 

X Campbell, Translation qf the Gospels, Prel. Dbs. vii. part 2, § 2. 

§ An excetteat account of the Schools of tbe PropheU is f^ven by 
StiUiagfleet, Origines SaenMy lib. ii. cap. 4. See also Vitringa, D« Sffmg. 
Vet. par. ii. cap. 6; Warbarton, Din. LegtU. lib. iv. ^ 6 ; and the aolliors 
referred to in the two former notes. 


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are inconsistent with the character and office of 
a superintendent of an academy. 

Though the explanation of the title by Michaelis, 
in the precise form in which he has stated it, 
must, for these reasons, be rejected, I am per- 
suaded that it is not very far from the truth ; for 
I accede to the opinion of those who derive it 
from the verb hnp, kahaJj to assemble together, and 
who suppose that Solomon adopted this appel- 
lation from his custom of assembling the principal 
persons among the people, and communicatii^ 
to them the wisdom of his divinely-illuminated 
mind. According to this view of the term 
Kohelethj it means one who convenes the people 
together, and imparts to them the lessons of wis- 
dom and virtue. Of all the interpretations of 
the word with which I am acquainted, this is by 
much the best supported. It results, in a natural 
and unforced manner, from the acknowledged 
meaning of the root of which it is a derivative ; 
and is confirmed by the LXX, who have trans- 
lated it by the word £icicXij<ria<mjc, immediately de- 
rived from €KK\rifria^ia, denoting to call an assembly, 
and to preach, or harangtie.^ In this they ware 
followed by the author of the Latin Vulgate, from 
whence it was adopted by our translators as the 

* See Snicer, Thesaurus, vol. i. p. 1060, and Sc)ipnla, Lex, m toc. It 
is observed by Bishop Panic, in his Prtface to Ecclesiastes, that Kokeieih^ 
in the iEthiopic language, according to Lndolph, sigmfies ** a cifcte, or 
a company of men gathered together in the form of a circle.'' 


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title of the book, while in other places, where 
KoheUth occurs, they render it by the word 
" Preacher," The terms " gatherer" or " as- 
s^nbler/' adopted by Parkhurst, may indeed 
seem more agreeable to etymology ; but they do 
not so well convey the notion of communicating 
instruction, which is included in the appel- 
lation KoheUth; and, upon the whole, though 
" Preacher" does not quite express the full force 
of the original, the English language does not, 
I think, afford a more appropriate word. 

This interpretation, it is true, depends upon 
the supposition, that Solomon was accustomed 
to assemble and instruct the people; and that 
such was his practice may be gathered, not only 
from the import of the ierm, according to its 
Hebraical derivation, but likewise from several 
other considerations. The Orientals, in lator 
ages, have sdways been fond of meeting together 
in companies, to entertain themselves with hearing 
and reciting compositions in prose and verse. 
In these assemblies they were sometimes edified 
by the delivery of grave discourses, on subjects 
of a moral and philosophical nature; though 
they were more frequently amused with the re- 
cital of tales and romantic stories, or listened, 
with Asiatic rapture, to the effusions of poetic 
imagination. Severed productions, delivered, or 
supposed to be delivered, in such assemblies, are 


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9dU extant, of ^hidi we harre exampleB in l3ite 
Mueamet^ or Academical DisoourseB^ of Hamadouii 
and Hariri.^ Tbe AraMa» tribes had andenldy, 
ontee a year^ at OcacUi, a generaiadsennbly^ nrhich 
iMted' a whole moiUii, during which time tliey 
wepe ens^yed, teget^^ with suh^tig of traffiisi 
in recitmg poetical composition8» to the moet 
exc^ent of which a prize was adjndged^f A 
paBsi(m for these recreationBj so worthy raAfOnai 
bemgs^ perraded^U classes; even p^^sons of the 
most elevated rank honoured these assembUeiB 
with their presence ;| and Uiey continue, to this 
day,^ to afibrd amugement ^uid instinetibn to the 
inhabitants of the £ast.§ This, it must^be bk> 
knowledged, is no absolute proof of simiiai? as^ 
semblies in the sge of Solomon; but itfomcisja 
strong presumption in their favour, and servesr to 
ehow, that a princess conv^iing and teaohing 
the people' comports with Oriental mannerg attd 

• Ss^eD'Herbelot, BibHotheque Orientaky in voc. *' Maeamat," says 
thiJB great Orientalist, denotes " assemblees et conversations, lienx 
comnita et pieces d'doqneiiee, on discoars acaidenilqae9^qulse>recitH«t 
dans le0 compagnies de gens de lettres. Cette maniere de reciter dans 
les assemblees des ouvrages en prose et en vers est aossi A^quente p2iHAy 
OneDtanx, qn'elle etoit antrefois obez les Romans,* ^t qiifeUe^st eacfrt 
aigourd'hay dans nos academies* Les Arabs ont plusieurs livres qui 
contiennent de ces sortes de disconrs, qni passent parmy ens pour des 
chcM'oMivres d'eloquence.^— Biiiioi^. Orientwlt^ vocMac^mat. Sc^ 
Abnlfeda, Anntd. Moslem, vol. iii. p. 728. 

t Pococke, Specimen Hist. Arab. p. 164, Oxon* I8#^. Sale, Pnef. 
Dtst. t^K&r^n^ p. S6, Lond. 1812. 

X D'Herbelot, Bibliotheque Orientale, voc. Amak. 

§ Niebahr^ Travels^ sect iv; cap^ 6, and sect, xxvit.'capi 8. 


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SmCTd III.] 0I8SEftTATION. ±li 

The sacred writn^^ howe¥er^ supj^y sdme piop- 
tieulars^ from which it is Reasonable to iilfer, thiU^ 
even so early as the tinte of Solotfaon, auditories 
were occasionally collected, in i^hi6h mbral ahd 
litarary discourses were pronounced. The author 
of the Ecclesiastes has heen supposed to allude 
to these assemblies m ch. xii. 11, which is thus 
interpreted : ^^The words of the wise itre as goads, 
and as nails fastened by tHb masters of 
AssEMiiLifis, which are givto from one sh^herd.'' 
Thi^ oHginal ykotds mjtbn »Vjra boHli ast^kotk, Mr. 
Hltrmar thinks^ strictly si^nif^&ird^ of assenibUes^ 
by ^hich he understands, persons who distin* 
gMshed Ihemsdves by the superiority of their 
compositions in those asseihblies so frequent 
kmffog the Orientals, in which literary produc* 
toAs were recite^.*" But, erefa admitting the cor* 
reeteess of tMs rendeiing^ knd it is not destitute 
of suf^oM, M obs<Qrved in the critical notes upon 
the passage, it will scarcely establish his interpre- 
taiti6n } for ^^the masters^ or Iwds of assemblies" 
'teay rsi^<^*deiiote thoscf who Irere appointed to 
preki4e orer tod iiidfruct the congrc^atiynn of 
Israd. Indfepend^it bf this, it is equally sigree*^ 
able to thh Iheral meaeAing of the phrase to render 
it '' lordsj or masters of coUectionsy'^ a Hebraism 
fefr "cdHectors;" by which expression the author 
migbf intend to des^nate tftose eminent persons 

* Harmer, OhdertAihnSy Sec, vol. iii. p. SIS', ed. CUrkc. 


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who collected and disposed in order tlie saymgs 
of men divinely inspired, as the men of Hezekiah 
mentk>ned in Prov. xxv. 1 ; and this exposition is 
adopted in the following paraphrase. 

Granting, however, that the passage above- 
cited does not make for our presi^at purpose, 
another, in the same chapter of the Ecclesiast^, 
may be appealed to with more confidence, wherdn 
S<domon informs us, that ''because the Preacher 
was wise he still taught the people knowledge ; 
yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set 
in ordar, many proverbs." — (Ch. xii. 9.) Here 
Solomon's teaching the people knowledge is con- 
tradistinguished to his composing or writing pro- 
verbs: this teaching, th^oi, must have been a vivd 
voce instruction, which could only be imparted 
to auditories collected for the purpose of hearing 
him discourse upon topics proper for edification. 

We are informed by the sacred historian, that 
^' there came of all people to hear the vrisdom of 
Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had 
heard of his wisdom ;" (1 Kii^s iv. 34 ;) that is^ 
very many inhabitants of the surroundiii^ states 
came of their own accord, and others ware com- * 
misidoned by foreign princes, to hear and profit 
by the wisdom of the Jewish monarch. In 1 Kings 
X. 24, it is said, that '' all the earth sought to 
Solomon, to hear his wisdom, which God had 


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put m his heart ;'' and, in 2 Ghron. ix. 23, it is 
stated, that ** all kings of the earth sought the 
pres^ice of Solomon, to hear his wisdom tiiat God 
had put in his heart;" from which, compared 
with the passage first quoted from 1 Kings, we 
learn, that the sovereigns of the adjoining coun- 
tries sometimes came personally, and sometimes 
by deputy, to ascertain, from Solomon's own lips, 
the reality of his far-renowned wisdom, and to 
profit by the counsels of a monarch so celebrated 
for understanding and knowledge. Now it is 
barely possible, that all these might hear his 
wisdom in private interviews; but it is much 
more probable, that they were collected into as- 
semblies, in commodious rooms, where the royat 
sage delivered to them the maxims and admo- 
Bitions of his enlightened mind. 

If such was the monarch's practice, we may 
account rationally for the " very great company" 
who attended the queen of Sheba when she 
visited Solomon, " to prove him with hard 
questions." — (1 Kings x. 2; 2 Chron. ix. 1.) They 
were, doubtless, not merely intended for state 
and pomp, but to be present at the interview of 
these exalted personages, and to witness " the 
keen encounter of their wits." The Jewish 
monarch, also, would be attended with his 
officers and courtiers, and in this splendid divan 
the king returned the answers of experienced 


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liftgfdoin tQ tlie quQgtions pro]^ovipiled by tii^ 
Airal)i9|i qufiasL. Whatever wer^ the ^ubgef^tfi 
4isGU9aed w this confeFeace, or in whatevw vmsk- 
ner it was conducted, it i^idouhtedly foiaopif d im 
assequbly expressly convened <pr Utenirj dip- 
cnssion and the exercise of intelleetual t^mt. 
Nor can any other conclusion be drawn fropa 
^hat the queen of Sheba says to the khig» 
" Haj^py are thy men, happy are these thy ser- 
i^ants, which sitand con^uajly b^ore thee, an^l 
that hear thy wisdom," (1 Kings x. 9; % Cbron* 
ijiC. 7}) which implies that $olom<m ^fts &iur- 
roimded by his servants and ministers, tq whot^ 
he was in the habit of communicating the $»^- 
gestions of inspired virisdom- 

The same inference may be fairly drawn from 
the description of Solomon's understanding and 
knowl^ge, in the first book of Kings, where it 
is a%med, that 'f he spai^e three thousand 
proverbs ; and his songs were a thousand and five. 
And he spaile of trees, from the cedar tree that 
is in Lebanon ev^i unto the hyssop that springeiih 
out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, a^d of 
fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes.'* — 
(Chapter iv. 32, 33.) It is not said, that these 
were written compositions, but that he spak^ 
them; and it is most consistaat with the manners 
'of the age, as well as with the dignity of i^ 
monarch, to suppose them spoken in assemblies 


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caRBcied ^v the purpose of hearing him di^ 
ecmrab. Tl^^sa cir^umstanoes, put toge^car, go 
tp fMFipf that this philosophical moiiafGhvaa 
woat to assemble the i^ople aad to instroct 
t^i^n; irhieh oenfirms the Ofduion that, in th^ 
pvedueticm of his declining years, he assum^ 
the aj^pttUation KoMetk, as being espressiYe of 
this custom. 

Such appears to be the true explicati^i of tht 
title; hut, however it may be explaiaed, aiu>ther 
question, of no small difficulty, furisea r^peeting 
^m foniniae form of tiie t^rm. Soloinan no- 
d0ubte41y rtjdtes himself JuiAefeM, whichf &ot- 
witt|standmg what has been ad¥aneed to the 
contiary, is evidently in the form of the feminine 
participle Benoni; haw, then, are we to account 
tw tins drcumstance? In reference to thk 
question it has been asserted, that it is m reality 
masculiiie, though the termination may seem to 
imply the contrary, it not being unusiual for 
imtpeap nam€« |q tiaye a feminine, terminatU>n, 
and ycet be of an oppo^te gend^ as Lapidoth, 
Mephibosh^h^ Z^Jikeik^ Ben^obeth, Alamath, 
Misp^eth, and others.* It may likewise be 
observed, that, out of seven places where it 
oeciurs, it is six times construed with nau4fik or 

S<9P|e!f:«tl( ^ JBondlli^e^^ liavf^ be^ «<M9^, wi iiutancw ; l^at they ^^e 
mam iMrafa|i|H3( t^e rni^oMa. ^f womiVt-Sca Syunonii^ Otima^ifimt |iU 
414, 415. 


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verbs masculine, while it is only once joined with 
a feminine verb, and even this single instance 
may admit of some doubt.* Yet, supposing 
Kohdeth to be masculine, it certainly has a 
feminine form; and the question still recurs, why 
was an appellation in a feminine form chosen, 
rather than a noun unequivocally masculine ? If 
nothing more was implied in the term than the 
wise monarch's custom of convening and instruct- 
ing the people, a masculine terminatioil would 
have more aptly suited the office, and b^er re- 
presented the dignity of the Preacher. A word, 
however, with a feminine terminatiMi was se- 
lected ; and, since it would be derogatory to the 
authority of Holy Scripture to suppose this pre- 
fer^ice without meaning, particularly when the 
admirable expressiveness and picturesque en^gy 
of the Hebrew language are considered, we must 
conclude, that there was some further view in its 
adoption. And what could this be, s^eeably 
with all the circumstances of the case, but an 
intention to r^resent wisdom, nmn^ divine and 
heavenly wisdom inspired by the Almighty, 
speaking by the mouth of the king of Israel? 

* The only place where it is constraed with a feminine verb is chapter 
▼li. 27, where we find n^np m»«; but the H in TVyt^ may be para- 
gogic, and in that case the verb will be masculine ; (see Wolf, BibhotK 
Heb, vol. iv. p. 83 ;) or the true reading may be fl^npn lOM, as we find 
in chapter xii. 8, which is the coiyecture of Mlchaelis, (Siipplem, ad Lex. 
No. 82S0,) and Jahn (Introduet. nd Lib, Sac. ^ 209.) It is dearly joined 
with masculine nouns or verbs chapter i. 1, 2, 12, xii. 8, 9, 10. 


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This is the judicious opinion of several emin^it 
Clitics ; and it not only accounts for the feminine 
termination of Kohekth, but also for its being 
sometimes construed with a feminine, (supposing 
the Masoretic text and punctuation of chaptar 
vii. 27 to be correct,) and sometimes with a mas- 
culine word ; for nouns used m^xmymically are 
construed either according to' their proper or 
figurative signification.* 

Thus we have a satisfactory explanation, both 
of the meanii^ and form of the appellation ; its 
etymology being designed to intimate the wise 
tOLonarch's custom of convening and teaching the 
people; and its feminine form to imply, that the 
doctrines which he inculcated ware not the result 
of his own reason, but the su^estions of divine 


The Scope and Design of the Ecclesiastes. 

The opinions of expositors, in regard to the 
scope and design of the book, are not less diver- 
sified than concerning the origin and meanmg of 
the title. The greater part of them, however, are 

« Scbroeder, InUU. Ling. JM. rcg. 33. 


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m eniieiitiy fuiciful and erroBeoiis^ ad scarcely 
to require a st^ous refutation^ which weukl> 
indeed, be iit present a stiit^^&us labour, as 
most of them have been coUeoted and dis^^ussed 
hf D^svoeux, in his learfied and in^enioui^ work 
cm the Ecolesiastes. A scheme diffar^t from ftll 
others has be^ proposed bjr that comn^ntatOr ; 
and as it has be^ l&tdf sanctioneid by so exeel- 
lent a writer as Dr. Gravel^, in his highly vdluabte 
Lectures on the PentateucAy* it demands a par- 
ticular examii^tion. The object of the royal 
Preacher^ aocorditig to Dcssvoeux, is " to proTe 
the inmi^rtality of the soul^ Or rathef the necessity 
of aaMtfaer state aftar tliis life, from such argu- 
mtots iis TbBj be affcnrded by reason and expe* 
fiencc/'t W»ethJs, however, the object of the 
Ecelesiastes, it is strange l^t it should ever be 
questioned, as it has been by critics of aekfitew- 
ledged learning and abilities, whether it contains 
any intimation whatever of a future period of 
retribution. But, admitting these writers to be 
mistaken, and that the wdfk actually presaits 
some intimations of a future state, as will be 
shown in a subsequent page ; yet we may clearly 
infer from the observation, that, if the leading 
object had been to enforce that sublime (doc- 
trine, it would not have been left in so much 
darkness and obscurity; It would rather iiave 

• Part m. Ltct. 4, § 3. 

t De^Yoeuj^, Dim. <m iht EuU$* p. 7^. 


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been clearly announced as the head and front of 
the treatise, exhibited in lively ccdours, and ex- 
posed to view in too circumstantial a manner to 
be mistaken. Of each part of the work it would 
have formed the prominent feature ; and it would 
have appeared, as well from the mode of illus* 
tration as the tendency of the argument, to be 
the principal object of the disquisition. . But the 
doctrine of a future life, though implied in a few 
passages, is not set in that prominent light, . nor 
so frequently mentioned, nor so strongly insisted 
upon as might be expected, had it constituted 
the basis of the discourse. And, what may be 
regarded as decisive of the question is, that, 
where a future state is mentioned, it arbes inci* 
dentally in the . course . of . the argument ; and, so 
hx from bdng the groundwork of the reasoning, 
seems intended only to illustrate and confirm it. 

Independently of this, other considerations 
evince, that the scope of the book is not to vindi- 
cate ** the necessity of another state after this life.'* 

It has been proved by Bishop Warburton, and 
is acknowledged by Dr. Graves, that the rewtfda 
and punishments of a future life were not incul- 
cated by the Jewish Legislator as sanctiani of his 
laws. Temporal sanctions only were, employed 
by Moses, because they were necessary to con-» 
frite idolatry, adapted to the moral and intellectual 


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diameter of the Hebrews, and Buitable M 
thiat superititending providence which God exer- 
cise over the Jevrish people. A full and express 
revdaUon of the doctrine concerning a future 
state would have been inconsistent widi the divine 
Monomy durii^ the continuance of the Theocracy ; 
for the rewards and punishments of another stc^ 
t4 being, necessarily implied in that doctrine. 
Would have nullified the temporal threats of the 
law. It would have been a glaring absurdity to 
promulgate spfaritual and invisible sanctioiM> duiing 
the existence of a disp^Dtsation supported only by 
those of a temporal nature. Accc»*dingly, a ftiture 
fsHAte is nowhere in the Hebrew Scriptures an* 
Bounced as a fundamental truth. Neithar in 
Ike Fmtateiich^ nor in the prophetical writingts^ 
4oes it cobstitute the essence and leading truth 
of wikkt is tWe ddivered ; it is much oftener 
glanced at than maitioned in direct terms ; inci- 
dentally rather than as the principal subject ; it is 
sometimes imj^ed m the sacred narrative, or 
;typically shadowed forth, and fi!iequen<iy indi- 
cated by a variety of allusions ; but in no passage 
Whatever is it declared to be a necessary article 
atM^. While this grand doctrine is the foun- 
dation of ChHi^anity^ pervading every part of the 
New Testament, without which Christ died in 
Vaai) and our fietith is vain, it is, eveai in the .most 
escfKcit declarations of the Old Testament, in- 
yolted in no small decree c^ doulrt and obsc^ty ; 


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SECT. !¥•] Dr»S£itTATlPN» ti 

and it was reserved for the Apostles of our h^r^ 
to place this great truth in the fuU effulgence of 
Svangdio light 

The aaeient Jews, it is true, grounded their- 
belief of a future state upon the intimations com** 
municated in their Sacred Writings; but that 
this momentous doctrine waa, previous to the 
promulgation of Christianity, dark and obsqurcw 
may be gathered from the apostolic affirmation 
of Christ having ^' bro^^t Ji]f§ and immoi^ty 
to light through the Gospdi."* Thist however, 
would not have be^i the f^^se^ it is pre^qmed* 
had Solomon composed a work fpr the i^xpreaei 
purpose of proving tliat ioiportant ten^ I9 it 
likely that he sbwld Im^^ an obieet in ^Wf and 
yet fail in the attainm^ of it ; that he abould 
attempt to illustrate a subject, and yet l^fre it in 
obscurity ; that he should have labonrad in vajn^ 
whose '' wkdom excelled all the wisdom of the 
M»st, country, and sJl the wisdom of Egypt," 
(I King^ >Vr30,) mi whose undierstonding wa* 
^ilarged and enU^M;eived by holy inspiration t 

witb Macknight, "hath made life and immortality clear;" yet th«aa^ 
tborized version eqnally proved, that the doctrine was obscurely deliverad 
before the Christian etfu With Maoknig^ i^ree the yiil|alt, yhirtt 
renders t^iaavroQ by "illumlnavit/' and probably the Syriac, which ha» 
^Q^Ai a word denoting to tnanifiat, &c, Scfaleusner renders it ^pate- 
fy!dtef^fnftfdl[eBt^nU" ft<yffl mMH iei[ ^yyla^ it, "per jby^naiy ^oUfgoy 
fecit certos de felicitate sterna."— <9cAolta in loc. See Wolfiiis, ^ur<e 
PhiM,m loc. .' ' 


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If we likewise take into consid^ation, that a 
Aiture state of retributive ji^tice coidd not, con- 
sistently, be revealed during the continuance of 
a dispensation supported by temporal sanctions 
only, it cannot be imagined, that this doctrine 
would form the basis of any book in the Hebrew 
Volume. To suppose so, would be to attribute 
inconsistency to the Divine counsels, and mutabi- 
Uty to an unchanged and unchangeable Deity. 

In another point of view/ it is improbable that 
Solomon should have been commissioned by the 
Almighty to promulgate, in a particular treatise^ 
the sublime dogma of a future retribution. By 
comparing together all the records of revelation, 
we find it has been the plan of Divine Providence 
to develop gradually the grand scheme of re- 
demption; to reveal it in successive ages wilh 
still increasing clearness and force, till, at the 
adv^it of Christ, the world was illuminated with 
the splendour of celestial truth. The Prophets, 
whose works have reached posterity, were all 
subsequent to the age of Solomon; and it can- 
not be credited, that the royal Preacher had a 
clearer knowledge of the scheme of redemption, 
and of a future state, than those worthies who 
were raised up in succession by Jehovah to un- 
fold the sacred truths of providence and grace. 
That the king of Israel should teach expressly 
what the Prophets have scarcely declared openly 


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and without reserve, cannot be reconciled with 
tke plan pursued by Omnipotent Wisdom, of the 
gradual development of religious truth. 

These reasons clearly warrant the conclusion, 
that the book of Ecclesiastes was not designed, 
as Desvoeux affirms, to enforce the doctrine of 
immortality, and of a future state of rewards and 
punishments. Whatever incidental intimations of 
these doctrines may be discovered in the book, 
it is not the scope and leading object of it to pro- 
mulgate them. And this is a distinction necest 
sary to be urged upon the reader. Though it 
appears to be unanswerably established, by the 
preceding observations, that it is not the cAief 
object and primary design of the work to incul^ 
cate a future state of retribution, it appears 
equally clear, that it contains some strong proofe 
of this article of religious faith. And here the 
writa: of these pages may, it is hoped, be per- 
mitted to digress a little, in order to state the 
grounds of tiiis conviction. 

The strongest testimonies to an eternal ex- 
istence hereafter which the discourse supplies 
are, chapter iii. 21, xii. 7, xii. 14. In the two 
former we read, **Who knoweth the spirit of 
man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the 
beast that goeth downward to the earth ?" and, 
" The dust shall return to the earth as it was, 


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and the spirit shall return uato God who gave it." 
These passages, according to Bishop Warbnrton^ 
only express the survivorship of the soul, without 
implying its distinct personality, and coincide 
with the sentiments of those ancient philosophers 
who considered the soul as a substance, and 
held the refusion of it into the universal nature, 
or to EN, while ihey denied it all personality, 
and disbbli^ed a future state of rewards and 
punishmaite.^ Or it may be alleged, tlmt the 
same expressioiis might be used by those who 
maintained the metempsychosis, virithout believing 
a pr^p» resurrection and an etenial state of re* 
tribution.t Bnt, ingenk>us as these interpretations 
may appear, proof is still wantii^ of tli^ ac^ 
cordance with the opinions of the learned Jews 
in the age of Solomon; and, what is more, they 
are inconsistent with other passages of the woi*k. 
We meet with repeated declarations of a divine 
retribution 4 l>ut if this retribution is not ab- 
solutely p^ect here below ; if vice often pros- 
pers, while virtue is depressed ; if oppression and 
misery await the good equally with the bad ; if, 

* DitiMe Legatumy lib. ▼. § 6. Compare lib. iii. § 2. 

t The tnuismigratioD of soals seems to have been the doctrine of at 
least some of the Jews in our Saviour's time ; (John \k, 2 ; see Whitby ;) 
but others deny it.— (See Ruinbel in loc.) The Pharisees, according to 
«ome, he\4 the metempsychofis, but others are of a di^rent opinion.. 
.-^-See Heland, AnfiqvUatei, par. ii. cap. 9, § 14 ; Pritiusy Jn^oducftif in 
No9» Test, cap. xxxiii. § 11 ; Lardner, Works, vol. i. p. 66, ed. 4to. 

X Chap. iii. 17, viiL 11, xL 9, xii. 14. See Oxlee, <^ ihe THtiUy and 
iMcamalioii, vpl. i. p. 47, and Witsiqs, (Ectmonfia FeederU^ lib. i^. ^p.. 


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in shorty all that this world has to besrtow is Tain 
and delnsive^ the divine retribution, so frequently 
nipped by the Preacher, must, consequently, take 
place in a foture state. Since, then, ^* the spirit 
of man goedi upward," and ^^ returns to God who 
gave it^" it is most reasonable to understand these 
e^tpi^sions of the soul's personal existence in 
another stage of being, where ev^ry <me will 
receive rewards or punishm^its^ according to a 
r^hteous retribution. 

From several observations in this book it may 
be infenred, that the extraordinary Pirovidence 
tmder the Theociracy was not so equally ad- 
Buti^tered in the age of Solom<m as invariably to 
d»pCTse rewards to the virtuous and punisimiMLti 
to the vicious. Hie Preacher declares, that 
one event, death, happens as well to the righteous 
as the unjust; (ch. ii. 16^ iii. 19, ix. 2;) that he 
beheld '^ the tears of such as w^e oppressed, 
fmd they had no comforter; and on, the side of 
their opprewors there was power, but they 
(i.e. the oppressed) had no comft>rter;" (ch. 
iv. 1 ;) tiiat " the race is not to the swift* nor the 
battle 136 the strong, neither yet bread to the wise> 
nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet 
favour td men of skfll ; but time a&d chance 
happen«th to them all;" (ch. ix. 11 ;) that '' the 
c^l*esiliim of the poor, and violemt perv^rtii^; of 
judgment tod jtistice in a province," was not 


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unusual. — (Ch. v. 8.) It is also observed, that 
** there is a just man that perisheth in his righteous- 
ness, and there is a wicked man that prolongetii 
his life in his wickedness ;" that ^^ there be just men 
unto whom it happeneth according to the work 
of the wicked;" again, " there be wicked men to 
whom it happeneth according to the work of the 
righteous." — (Ch. vii. 15, viii. 14.) These, it ifr 
true, are stated by the author of the book as 
the cavils of profane scoffers ; but they must have 
had some foundation in truth, for it would be 
irrational to build an objection upon a circum- 
stance plainly contrary to general observation 
and experience. Now such declarations could 
scarcely have been made unless these inequalities 
had existed ; yet we find the author expressii^^ 
a conviction, that they would somewhere be rec- 
tified ; and therefpre, as this did not always take 
place in the present life, he must have concluded, 
fliat God would call mankind to judgment in 
anodier world, where sentence would be passed 
upon them according to their merits. All man- 
kind, of whatever moral character, being alike 
subject to calamity and death, affords the surest 
grounds for believing that an equitable . dis- 
tinction will be made in another stage of ex- 
istence. The royal philosopher himself has rea- 
soned in the same manner, in the Ninth Section, 
according to the division in the annexed Para- 
phrase, when, though he acknowledge the 


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prevalence of iniquity, he at the same time asserts, 
that '' God will judge the righteous and the 
wicked, (for there is a season for every purpose 
of God,) and he will determine concanung every 
work." And this equitable judgment, he con- 
tinues to argue in the next Section, will take 
eflfect, though men as well as beasts must die ; 
and though the good and the bad seem to be 
treated alike in this world, yet it will not alwaigi 
be so ; for when we look beyond the grave, we 
discover that ^' the spirit of man goeth upward, 
and the spirit of the beast downward to the 
earth," where the opposition shows, that, as the 
spirit of the beast perishes, the spirit of man lives 
for ever ; it ascends into heaven, unto God who 
gave it, to receive the righteous recompense of 

Hence, in asserting that '^ the spirit 6f man 
goeth upward," and '^ returns to God who gave 
it," the Preacher must have meant to assert its 
existence in a future state, where alone it can 
be subjected to the just retribution which, he con- 
stantly maintained, would, at some time or oth^, 
take effect. This becomes still more apparent 
from the remaining passage appealed to at the 
outset, wherem it is affirmed, tliat '' God will 
bring every work into judgment, with every, se- 
cret thing, wheth» it be good, or whether it be 
evil." — (Ch. xii. 14.) The terms themselves, in 


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thid text, so obviously imply the strict immortatity 
of the soul and a fiit^re retaribution, tiiat a man 
must be strangely biassed by an hypothesb who 
js^erches for any oi^^er exposition. Yet Le Clere 
and others suppose, that hH this might be asserted 
J^y one 'who expected only temporal rewards: 
and punishments, provided he believed, as every 
Jew did, in a superintaiding and extraordinary 

That this interpretation, however, is erroneous^ 
«ad that the passage cannot rdate to the judg^ 
ment of Ood exercised in this wi)rld, m^ be 
inferred from the universality of the expres^ns« 
If God be a righteous judge, and '* vdHk l^ing 
epery work into judgment, with evewy secret thing,'' 
it is utterly impossible to miderstand this of s^y 
other than a future day of judgment Every 
work, it is manifest, is not judged in this world, 
nor ^ every secret thing brought to light, apd if tkb 
be done at all, and we are assured of the ^t, it 
must be in another world. It will not avail to 
reply, that, while God exercised a particulaF aad 
extraordinary Providence over the Israelites, a 
just retribution might invarktbly take effisct ; £br> 
even under the Theocracy, there were always some 
apparent exceptions to the temporal adminktra- 
tion of divine justice, an undeviatimg retribution 
being, as far as we are able to judge, incompa-* 
tible with a state of probation ; and, as we have 


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SECT. IV.] D18S£ftTATIOM. lix 

just seeii, such an extFaordinary Provid^iee 
was not constancy admmistered in the age of 
Solomon. Hence^ as the Plreacher asserts a/ 
ri^teous and uniTersal judgm^it of evirjf iffoA^ 
and of evenf secret thing, he must have believed 
it to take place, not on earthy but in a Aiture 

The proposition deliv^^ ia this verse fonni^ 
the reas(m £6r the exhortation immediatdy pi'e- 
eedi^. '' Let us Atar, says the Preachet, Cihr 
eandusion of the wh^k matter contained in the 
second part of this discourse; suad ii^ as has l^oeti 
demonstrated, Wisdom is the only substantial 
good, then fear 09d and keep kis o(»mman4me»t$it 
for iHs is the wMe dut^ of mam, and. will conati*- 
tule Us supreme good : for God teiU, bfi$^ ttvitif 
work i»to judgment^ with epery secret thing, whe- 
ther it be good, or whether ii be etU'' Supposing 
these last words to refer only to God*s judgm^itd 
in the earili, they supply no r^ai^on. whatever for 
the observation of the precept ; for what induce* 
lii^nt could there be to fear God> a$id to keQp 
his commandments, if this wodd were our aJQ, a 
world which, with all its ple^sm;es and advaa- 
tages, tjie Preacher had decid^Uy mainjIjainM to 
be only vanity and vexation of spirit ? Why did 
he paint, in such glowing cplours, the emptiness 
of all t^restriat thii^s, if no bett^ prospect 
awaited us beyond the grave ? And why did he 


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recomm^id the attainmeiit of Wisdom so earn- 
estly, if it were only to be rewarded with the 
perishable and unsatisfactory things which this 
wwld has to bestow? The declaration, that 
" Crod will bring every work into judgment," if 
it merely refers to his dealings with mankind on 
earth, neither agrees with the scope of the whole 
discourse, nor forms a reason for the precept 
delivered immediately before. Take it, however, 
in its true light, and all the expressions will be 
found correct, and the argument cogent. Since 
every thing in this transitory scene is unsubstan- 
tial ; since much oppression, pain, misery, and vice 
prevail; and since the righteous, equally with the 
wicked, are subject to misfortune and death, it 
follows that, if God be just, a period will arrive 
when every thing will be set to rights, when the 
inequalities of this world will be adjusted, and 
men be punished or rewarded, according as they 
have obeyed or disobeyed the divine commands. 
It must, therefore, be the great duty and princi- 
pal concern of every man, in this life, to /ear God 
in a filial and reverential manner, and to keep Ids 
tommemdmentSy because, in a fiiture state, Gi>d 
witt bring every work into judgment , with every 
secret thing, whether it he good, or whether it he 

* The objectMDS of Le dcre to Mb iiiterpretitipo of Ecdenastes 
^. 14 are solidly refbted by Peters, CrUkal JHssertaiUn on Joh^ part Ui. 


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The result of the foregoing mvestigation is, that 
the book of Ecclesiastes is not designed to incul- 
cate the immortality of the soul and a future 
retribution^ thou^ it supplies some very clear 
intimations of that important doctrine. 

The opinion most generally received respecting 
the scope and design of the Ecclesiastes is, that 
it is an inquiry into the Summum Bonumy or Chief 
Grood, the frequ^it subject of speculation among 
the philosophers of Greece and Rome. To this 
opinion the Author of the present performance 
accedes, and upon this basis the following Para- 
phrase is constructed. But, in characterizing the 
discourse as a discussion of this interesting topic, 
the Chief Good is not understood in the same 
sense as by the ancient philosophers. Much con- 
fusion and error have arisen from applying to the 
illustration of this subject notions derived from 
the classical schools of philosophy. The real 
good of man, as portrayed by the Jewishs age, is 
essentially different, both in its nature and object, 
from that which was sought after by the learned 
of Pagan antiquity. 

" The Sovereign Good," says Mr. Harris, " is 
that, the possession of which make us happy."* 

* Harris, JHti^pu m H9fpiim$f part i. With this agree the various 
descriptions of the Summum Bmmm enamerated by Stobsras, Eelog, Etkk, 
ib. ii. tap. 7, ed« Heeren ; AfisioUe, Rheiericay lib. i. cap. 6 ; LactaDtins, 


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The essence of the philosophical Summum Bwiumy 
accordh^ to this definition, consists in its power 
of producing happiness. Amidst all the div^ersity 
of opinions as to the thing itself, in this the phi- 
losophers are universally agreed.* The very 
characteristic of the Chief Good, in which they 
zxe all unanimous, is, that it is desirable for its 
own sake, and all other things only as means 
conducing to it; that it is the ultimate end to 
which ev«ry thing is to be rrferred, and itself to 
nothing further, which shows it to hav« been, in 
their ap}N*ehension, but another teitn for human 
felicity.f But it is manifestly not the sole object 
of the author of the Ecclesiastes to inveirtigate 

Jiuett. lib. iii. The Amimiim Boman is ably discussed in Dr. Ireland's 
Pttgmdtm ttnd CkriHioHity compared^ ehap. Yiii. See also Ittitilerforth'^ 
Emif on Virtm, chap^ ix. 

* Oyofiari (soil, to ayaBov) fuv €W a^^ov vno rufv wkBiarwr 
ofcoXoycireu* njv yap evBcufioviav Kai oi woXXoi, Kai oi ')(apuvrec 
XtytHMTi, <« as to thettame of the Chief Goed itL<i unlversalty a(gi«*d,'fbr 
both the miiititade aad the learned call it happiness.'' — (Aristotle, Ethic, 
Nichom, lib. i. cap. 4.) In Plato's Dialogue on the Sunumun BomuM, en- 
titled PfdMnu, it is described to be Ihat habit or dbposilfonvf ttlndivUth 
renders human life happy, cfyy ^pv^rn K€u iioBetriVf rijv htvaiuvnv 
avdpmroiQ watri tov (itoy ev^aifioya xope^^ecv. — Opera, toI. iv. p. 209, 
ed. Bipont. See also Angosttne, X)« Ctofr. l>et,>11b*actt. cap. 1,B,B; 
Cicero, De FimbuB, pasnm,; Stobseus, Ectog, Etidc. lib. ii. cap. 7^,fuJU», 
and 374 et seq. ed. Heeren. 

f ^ Quaerimns quid sit extremnm et nltimum bonomm ; qnod onmiom 
philosophomni sententia tale debet esse, at ad id omnia referri oporteat, 
ipsmn antem nnsqaam." — (Cicero, De Finilnu, lib. i. cap. 9. See also 
cap. 13; Afaximns Tyrins, JHn, 19. sub, fin,; Aristotle, Ethic, Nieksm. 
lib. i. cap. 7 ; Stobaens, Eclog. Ethic, vol. UL p. 80 et seq.) Indeed, the 
great object of ancient philosophy was the promoting the happiness of 
the present Ufe aleae, at Cicero obsevYes^ in his ^e treatise on the 
Sovereifn Good, " omois aamma pM9s»phi« ad beate vivandiuB re- 
fertuff."— De Finibn$, lib. ii. cap. 37. 


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wkat may enable us to lead hiqfipy lives. Thoogjk 
the Wisdom which he panegyrizes coalributed 
mora to faappiHess than the fleetiag plieasure^ of 
a fieeting worlds it is not on this account that he 
anblazons it with unceasing praise. He at- 
tributes effects to it fiaur more noUe and sacred ; 
reeommending it to our esteem and eultiYatiett* 
because it is the only means of living conformably 
to the wfll of Heayeft^ and of obtainii^ the lavoMr 
o£ Omnipotence. It would not have accorded 
with Soimnon's r^utation for piety and wii»doia» 
to propose aught as the Chief Good unconikected 
wMk reMgion. While Pagan philosophy neyer 
taught the glory and sendee which are diie to the 
Supreme Being, he could never cease to inculcate 
the necessity of reverence to the divine law, aoid 
the ui^MiraUeled importance of feating God ami 
keeping his cooMnandments. Kcbfecated in the 
strictest principles of Judaism, he must ever have 
considered, and ever have represented, these an 
man's highest interest and mpreme good. 

The Summum Bomvm, aa understood by the 
aneieAt philosophers, was diat which conirtitnted 
kappAiesa m ik$ present A^e. Hat none of the 
aaicieiit philosephcrs believed the doctnne of a 
future state of rewards and punishments, though, 
on account of its great utility, all tiie thetstical 
ones sedulously taught it to the people^ is 


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strenuously maintained by the learned Warbur- 
ton ;* but, without giving entirely into this opinion, 
he who impartially examines their writings will be 
convinced, that their ideas were confined prin- 
cipally to the limits of terrestrial existence ; that 
their reasonings about the nature of the soul and 
immortality, when they rose the highest, were 
still involved in uncertainty ; and that whenever 
they cast a glance beyond the grave, it was con- 
sidered as a subject of curiosity and amusii^ 
speculation, rather than as leading to any useful 
and practical result. But the Jewish philosopher 
looks beyond the narrow bounds of this world ; 
he contemplates the time when, after the termi- 
nation of life, '* the spirit shall return to Grod who 
gave it;" and elevates his thoughts to another 
stage of existence, where ** God will bring every 
work into judgment." His intimations of these 
truths, it is confessed, are indefinite and general ; 
and, even while he mounts to the very confines of 
the etherial regions, we are compelled to acknow- 
ledge, that his conceptions of a future state were 
surrounded with shade and obscurity. But, con- 
fused as his notioi^ might be, he was too well 
convinced of a future life to regard aught as the 
Chief Good which is restricted to the present. 

* DMne Lcf ofton, lib. iii. See Dr. Ireland's PaganUm and CkrUti- 
anity compared, chap, v., and Dr. Leland's Advantage and NeceuUy qf 
Revelationy part iii. 


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and which affords not the promise of advancing 
the haj^ness of the soul, after the body has 
crambled into dust. 

The Sovereign Crood, as understood by the 
author of the Ecclesiastes, is that which is ul- 
timately good, that which, in all its bearings and 
relations, is conducive to the best interests of 
man. This is the object of the Preacher's in- 
quiry; and, after discussii^ various erroneous 
opinions, he finally detennines that it consists in 
True Wisdom. The scope of the whole argu- 
ment, therefore, is the praise and recommendatbn 
of Wisdom, as the supreme good to creatures re- 
sp<m»ible for their actions. In this Wisdom is not 
included a smgle particle of that which is worldly 
and carnal, so frequently possessed by men ad* 
dieted to vice, the minions of avarice, and the 
dlaves of their passions ; but that which is from 
above, that which is holy, spiritual, undefiled^ 
and which, in the writii^s of Solomon, is but 
another word for Religion. Guided by this clue, 
we can easily travwse the intricate windings and 
ma^ in which so many commentators upon the 
!Ecclesiastes have been lost and bewildered. By 
keeping steadily in view the Preacher's object, 
to eulogize Heavenly Wisdom, the whole admits 
an easy and natural interpretation; %ht is 
difiused arpund its obscurities ; connexion is dis- 
coY&red in that which was b^ore. dic^oinled ; the 


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fadri ifAEUMiiiAJtT [flacir. iv. 

ajsgumefilrtceKres addUioii^ iovte^ flue AeBtintato 
new beauty; and every part of the disecni»e^ 
when considered in reference td this otqeot^ ten^ 
to develop the nature of True Wisdom, to display 
te excelenjce, or to ttcoisamkd ife^cquiram^t. 

In a work intended to indisce mankind f^ 
cultivate Religion, it is natural^ if not necmsary, to 
begin with pointing out the iun^nkGicance of Umi 
thinga which the muHkude^ in their searek <rf 
happiness, so eagarly cov^ and pursue. If ohoe 
convinced that wealth, the idol of so many^ can- 
not mitigate a »n^ pang ol its posiossor ; that 
the splendours of rank are but empty panQ|> and 
idle pi^eantry; and thai vcduptuous pleasrarai 
arte too transitory to be the source of felicity, and 
c^en pall in the enjoytiie»t, ^e mind is pr^ 
par^ to reject what, mstead of producing hap^ 
pinessy ends only in wearmesa and di^i^ipcwi^ 
meiit. When, on the other hattd, the captivatkg 
aspedt of Religion is portrayed in all its beauty; 
when her intrinsic value is described with pMtic 
warmth and imagery, the solid eon^rts she 
imparts in life, the sub)[hne prospect she opens 
beyond the grave, the heart becomes enraptmred 
with the view, and, forsaking the gSlded objects of 
MQse, sedLS enduring joys and tranquillity under 
her banners. The emptiness snd insufficiency 
0{ all human pijrsuits and enjoymoits, contrasted 
with the native ckaoms and real bles&tings of 


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SECT. iwJ] 0iiSfiirrdiTioM« Jjcvii 

I, eBFObOft thai aotfaui^ in this worijd, hom^ 
efet ioTed okI admired, can be put in cook 
petitioA witik Rdigious Wisdom* 

; AAer thia maaoBfir Aiistotle, the most praibimii 
and xiMi«*8al .gemus ix£ Bntiqwitfj discusses tba 
Sc»^e|gn <jroodt in his Ifichomacbsan fitlnoa^ 
irat tftfovsvtg, 4hat it idoes not iconskt in pleastnre 
and leading m sensual Me, mior in the pursuit of 
honour, nor m a £fe of coetemplaticm, nor in 
apfassiog wealtii; and theace concluding, thai it 
mnrt he what 4s p^ect and oomplete ki itself, 
what m desirable, not as Ike mfeans, but the end, 
ilesiralle for its own Bake atone, and the ^imate 
dbjecA^ laU ^nr aictions : he, therefore, fdaced k 
hn^ke wtiiQns «xer<cise of the eneigies of the soul 
e^ntmued tlnrough lile.^ The imghly fStagkrite 
saw dearly, that external things cannot constitute 
man's CSnef <3rood ; tfiat it must refer to his moral 
and ii^cSlectual njsrture; and he only fads in u 
tree cow»ption of 4t fear want of juster notions of 
n Providence and a ^ture state.f His method, 
however, of treating the subject is the same which 
the equally penetrating and enlarged under- 
standing ctf ti^ Jewish plnlosopher adopts in 

• To avBfU^^voy ayadov ylnf^uc mpycia . yu^rai war* cLp^my * je^ 
2€ srXcowc o* apiratf Kara njv apicm|y icoi rcXctoraniV tri & ev 
fitta r^tia.—IEiklb, Nidkom, fib. 1. cap. 7. 

t " an«mam^im0, f!^ beattOMD f^oi^ mn a?9test«88e,^niM jp e« 
religione atqae doctrina, cai spes imnEiartalitaait acyuncti est"— Lac- 
<teiillM, IfutiM, IH>. m. eap. It. 


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promu^tiiig the trae Soverei^ Good* He ftrdt 
ddBneafes the fleeting and unsulxrtantial nature 
of whatever is most prized by those whose minds 
are grovelling upon earth. By a rapid» but 
Scrutinizing view of the cir^umstanceB attending 
human life, he daocionstrates the vanity of worldly 
pursuits, and the insufficiency of worldly plea* 
sures. Neither the soft smiles of prosperity, noi* 
the magnificence of pomp and greatness, caa 
satisfy the desires of the soul; evwy gratification 
that wealth and power can procure is empty, 
momentary, and delusive: in whatever condition 
he is placed, man is still the heir of disappoint- 
ment and anxiety; and, whether struggling unde- 
the pressure of poverty and toil, or cradled in the 
lap of luxurious indulgence, highly-purchased 
experi^ice will convince him, that secular things 
oftener produce vexation of spirit than substantial 
happiness. After this mournful, but too faithful 
picture of human life, the royal Preacher pro- 
ceeds to unfold, in langus^e the most impressive, 
the immense worth and advantage of Religious 

Hence he commences with the declaration, 
that " all is vanity ;" which is not to be under- 
stood as impljring any censure upon the works 
of creation, for God does nothing in vain, every 
thing being properly adapted to its end, and 
excellently fitted to display the power, wisdom. 


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and goodness of the Almi^ty. Yet when llie 
Ihii^ of this world are applied to improper pur* 
poses; when they are considered as the end, 
whiLe. they are only intended , to be tiie means; 
and are rested in as the source of happu^ss* 
wihich they were not designed to afford, vanity is 
discovered to be their character. That which is. 
most excellent becomes useless, if not ii\|urioufi, 
by the abuse ; and the works of Omnipotence, 
however wise, and good in themselves, are unjNro- 
fitable to those who misuse and pervert them. It 
were a kind of blasphemy to vilify whatever has 
proceeded from Omniscient Power; and Solomon 
can only be supposed to pronounce all things 
here below vain, when they are applied to ia, 
wrong i^e, by the ignorance and wickedness of 
man^ Nor does he so denominate all things 
universally and without any exception, but only 
all earthly things, as wealth, pleasure, pomp, 
luxury, power, and whatever is me'ely human 
and terrestrial. If these are placed in comr 
petition with divine and heavenly things, or are 
foolishly regarded as the means of real happiness^ 
they become useless and unprofitable, because 
they are uncertain and transitory, never fully 
satisfying the desires of the soul, nor producing 
permanent felicity.* 

* " It is true, the works of the Lord are all great and excellent, 
son^t out of all them that have pleasure therein, good in their kind and 
order, of excellent use to set forth the divine wisdom, powier, goodness, 


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hex PftEXIAUiNiJIY [SB€T. IW. 

Ef Worldly lliiiigs are Tain im tkese ren^^cts, ik 
would, oerertlidieafi, be presomptioQ and impigfay 
to jneprescHt ^kem as actmdly bad. Tliey ane 
good ta tbemselTeSy aiid, ivhen rightly med^ii^iil 
(oijtogQod^ snice theycoisbributetothetfnjbir'- 
iBeiit of life, jnd, in an ^ninent d^ree, to die 
idtimate and Teal mteteA o£ wmot. But if Aey 
am pursued as &e <mly '* portion in tibislife/' as 
constituting the happiness ^of Ibdngs formed for 
immoitsdity, tiiejr are not ^stknated on right prin** 
ciples, and the nes«dt will be Texation and ^s^ 
appomtmart. I^ieir vanity^ i^n, arises frcun the 
foUy and baseness of men, who, in forget^niBesii 
of eternaty, are too apt to regard this ^orid as 
thekr sole and 'feial abode, and to expect that 
satisfaction firom them whkh they x^annot give* 
Nor are "they to be condemned on this accouiK. 
That they are insufficient to rend^ man happy 
is itscif the ordination of Infinite Wisdom, and, 
eonBeq[uei]tly, best suited to a probationary f^late^; 
wisdly -calculated for the trial of man's wtne, 
and, by weaning him £rom too f<md atAachmtn^ 

and glory ; and necessary to flie use and service of man ; (1 11m. W. 4» 6 ;) 
yet vain in oter cespects: fir«t, conpiuratiTCty wn^ w^entpst in ^ 
balance with God and heavenly things^ Job xv. 15 ; Issuah xl, 16, 16,17.) 
Secondly, vain by that snperindnced vanity to vrfaichthey are siHrjected 
by man's transgression.— (Rom* viii. 80.) ll^if^y, vain iii«rder^toJ|i^ 
piness, the fhll possession and the most vigorous fmition of them not 
being capable of affording real satisfaction to the immortal sonl ; man 
Idmself, the noblest of them aU, being, * st bis best estate, altogetiier 
vanity .'~(Ps. xxxix. 6, 6, 11, lxii.9, cxUv. 3, 4.)^— Ksfaop neyaoida, 
CMfMieiikify 911 Ecckmstes i. 8. 


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sbct; ivJ] misEJiTATioN. bad 

tfr Umigs on eturik; td siiiinilaie hiv deskesr and 
exertkiBB' aAet tbe Uenednem of aofliflier life* 

InptoarKuthi^ his iacfmry into the Ch^ Good, 
SoloiBaii has divided his work mta two parte, 
liie first, winch extends io the tenth ¥erse oi tke 
nxth chapter, i» taken up in danonstraftii^ the 
vanity of all earthly coiidkions, occupations^ and 
pieasores ; the second pert, which hichideft Ae 
remainder of tl^ book, is occupied in enlogizmg 
WiSBOMt and in describing Mb nature, ite ex<^ 
cellence, ite beneficiai efieets.* This division, 
indeed, 10 not adhered to throughcmt witb lexical 
iMHToracy; some deviations from strict method 
are allowable in a popular discourse; and die 
author occasionally diverges to topics incidentally 
suggested; but, amidst diese digressions, the 
distinctioiur of the two parte cannot escape the 
attentive readar. It is not the minher of the 
imcrei writers to form their diaceursea in a 
regular series of deductions and concateimted 
sripnneiite : tiiey ado{rt a species of c€»nposiki<mi, 
less logical indeed, but bett^ adapted to c<Hn- 
mom capacities,^ in whidithe subject is stifl kept 
in view^ duMg^ n^ bandied according to the 
iioles of disdectics. £ren St. Paul, whose rea^ 
somug powers are unquestioiiaUe, frequently 

* That tbe book eoa^s of two parts, or divisions^ has been obsenred 
by several commentators, and especially by Dr. Wells, Help for under- 
tkmdiMg^ IJbr Sctipiwr^f Pi«fttt4 to Boclpsiaates. 


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digresses from his subject^ breaks off abruptly 
in the middle of his argument, and departs from 
the strictness of order and arrangement. In the 
same way has the royal Preacher treated his 
subject; not with exact, philosophical method, 
but in a free and popular manner, giving an un- 
controlled range to his capacious intellect, and 
goffering himself to be borne along by the exr 
mfoerance of his thoughts and the vehemence of 
his feelings. But, though the methodical dis^ 
position of his ideas is occasionally interrupted, 
his plan is still discernible; and perhaps he 
never wanders more from his principal object 
than most of the other writers in the Sacred 

This account of the scope and design of the 
Ecclesiastes might be further confirmed by an 
analysis of the work, which, however, it is un- 
necessary to attempt at present, as the subjoined 
Paraphrase and Notes will sufficiently show the 
author's design and his chain of argument ; and a 
general idea may be obtained with facility from the 
prefixed Table of Contents. We may therefore 
conclude, without further enlargement, that the 
leading object of the Ecclesiastes is stn inquiry 
into the Sovereign Good, which the author con- 
ducts upon the plan of first proving what does 
not constitute it, though too often re^rded in 
that light by the folly of mankind; and, in the 


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next place, showing that it consists in Wisdom, 
or Religion, which, for that reason, is highly 
extolled. The book, in fact, may be considered 
as designed to praise and recommend True Wis^ 
dom to the observance of men, as the only real 
and permanent good. 

How greatly does this view of the work exalt 
the character of Solomon ! At an early pmod 
of life, when the Almighty granted him the 
option, his innate sagacity prompted him to pre- 
fer Wisdom to every other possession; in conse- 
quence of which he was enabled, by the Divine fa- 
vour, to attain unparalleled knowledge. — (1 Kangs 
iii. 5, et seq. ; 2 Chron. i. 7, et seq.) But, not con- 
tent with its silent acquisition, or with the renown 
which it procured him throughout the then known 
world, he laboured diligently to impart the fruits 
of it to others, • and composed several imperish- 
able works for the benefit of his subjects and of 
posterity. Some of his works are unfortunately 
lost; but the most valuable of them, those relating 
to morality and religion, are still extant, and 
serve to demonstrate as well the piety and bene- 
volence of his heart as the depth of his under- 
standing. In the Proverbs he gives advice and 
directions to such as desire to become practically 
wise: in the Ecclesiastes, by delineating the 
excellence, he recommends the love and acquire- 
ment of Wisdom; and, in the Canticles, he refines 


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and spiritualize^^ the same subject, under the veil 
of allegorical and pastoral poetry. A life thus 
employed in the inculcation of Religion, as w^ 
as in extending the prosperity of his country, 
while it dignified the monarch, ennobled the man- 
He who, amid the pomp and pleasure of royalty, 
entertains the desire, and, amid the toils of 
government, finds the leisure, to instruct the world 
in religious truth, must be pronounced an orna- 
ment to humanity. Yet the character of Solomon 
is not without its spots; ike impartiality of 
Scripture narratiye records that his heart, though 
it owned the generous pulsations of virtue, was, 
notwithstanding, betrayed into sin; and, ensnared 
by the soft seduction of female charms, he fdl 
into great and lamentable errors. But when, by 
the grace of that Almighty Being whom he had 
ofiimded, he was made sensible of his trans- 
gression, he became a sincere penitent ; and pub- 
lished to the world the evidence of a broken and 
contrite heart in the book of Ecclesiastes ; a work 
designed to withdraw the affections of mankind 
from all sublunary things, and to attach them to 
wisdom and virtue, which can alone secure their 
real and lasting happiness^ Thus, if benevolence 
pities, and stem justice condemns, the fall of 
the monarch, piety exults at his recovery; and 
though his criminality was confessedly great, yet 
his heart-felt sorrow, his sincere repentance, and 
his complete reformation, exalt his character to 


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tbe d^ee of excellence which we hare been 
accustomed to associate with and admire ia thi^ 
name of Solomon. 

The Style and Language of the Eccle- 


The obscurities of the Ecclesiastes have fur- 
nished matter of complaint to almost every com- 
mentator ; and that they are not without founda- 
tion is the opinion of a distinguished prelate!, 
whose literary labours have done more towards 
illustrating the nature and beauties of Hebrevv^ 
poetry than those of all his predecessors in the 
department of sacred criticism. " The style ot 
this book," says Bishop Lowth, "is peculiar; the 
diction is, for the most part, low, but exceedingly 
obscure; often loose, unconnected, and resem- 
bling conversation ; neither is the poetical cha- 
racter very apparent in the composition and struc- 
ture, which may, perhaps, in some measure, be 
attributed to the nature of the argument."* The 

* ^ Slylns hojnscc operU est plane lingularis ; dictio est humilis pl^ 
rnmqae et sabmissa, sed imprimis ohscura ; saepe laxa et dissolnta, et 
sermoni propiior; nee in compositione et structora multam viget poeticot 
eharacter; que fbrsan videri possunt argwnenti natnna aUqnattmii 
tnbaeiidfL.*''^Praleci. 24.) " Stylus est hnmilis et ad prosam accedit" 
— Jahn, IntroduetU. ad V. T. ^ 2iS. 


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style, moreover, abounds with inrersions, with 
abrupt transitions, with bold ellipses, and with a 
few words and idioms by some denominated 
Chaldaic, but which may rather be numbered 
among the writer's peculiarities, as they have not 
any indisputable marks of an Aramaean origin, 
and, though uncommon, seem agreeable to the 
analogy of the Hebrew tongue. 

The book has been pronounced, by some 
critics, to be written in the way of dialogue, 
between a religious man on one side, and an 
Epicurean worldling on the other ; while others, 
as Herder and Eichhom, though they do not 
r^ard it as a regular dialogue, characterize it as 
a singular and artificial composition, in which 
two speakers, a rash Investigate and a con- 
siderate Instructor, are introduced, whose oppo- 
site character and sentiments are discernible 
throughout. However these vnriters may differ 
in their particular views, they all agree in prin- 
ciple ; and Dean Yeard, in his Paraphrase upon 
the Ecclestastesy has endeavoured to reduce it to 
a consistent form. But all such attempts must 
be unsuccessful, as there is not the most distant 
hint, in any part of the work, of its being a dis- 
cussion between two or more persons. It has 
none of those breaks, nor of those glances 
upon incidental topics, and rejoinders, by which 


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dialogistic compositions are distinguished. The 
subject matter and the chain of the argument 
prove, in the most convincing manner, that it is 
an investigation conducted by the author in his 
own person and character. 

Still, though it is not a regular dialogue, the 
author sometimes starts objections against his 
reasoning, to which he afterwards replies. It is 
not material whether these be considered to 
proceed from Solomon himself, or to be stated 
as the objections of the sensualist; but that 
he actually does, in some instances, introduce 
Epicurean cavils, for the purpose of refuting 
them, cannot in reason be denied. Some pas- 
sives occur of such a character as no ingenuity 
of exposition can reconcile with the known sen- 
timents of Solomon; while they are perfectly 
suitable to men of dissolute habits, and may be 
regarded as the popular sophistry prevalent in 
that age among the profane and licentious. 
Passages again, in their obvious sense expressing 
the principles of atheistic folly, must be under- 
stood to be introduced by the author with a view 
to their refutation ; otherwise they would be in- 
consistent with many other positions in the same 
treatise, wherein he exhorfs the sons of men to 
the practice of the moral virtues, to fear God, 
and to keep his commandments. 


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Nor is it any impediment to this mode of in- 
terpreting such like passages, that they are not 
expressly proposed as the Mse reasonings of 
sensualists. The inspired writers are not accus- 
tomed to deliver their doctrines, and to refiite 
opponents, in the logical manner of Grecian 
philosophers; but, though objections are not 
formally stated, they may be discovered witliout 
difficulty. Sentim^tts of a sensual and irre- 
Ugioiis nature, of which thare are some, cauBot 
be attributed to the royal Preacher as the dictates 
of his own mind; and if, in what immediately 
follows, they are condemned or rebutted, we 
may safely consider them as the objections of 
the profane, which he introduces in order to 
refute. In the same manner St. Paul raises and 
combats objections, without any precise and 
formal statement, leaving them to be discovered 
by Hie sagacity of the reader.* 

The language of this book has sometimes ^ap- 
peared exceptionable, from takmg, in their uftmo^ 
extent, expressions designed to convey a quaU^d 
and limited signification. General propositions 
are not always to be received in the strictest 
sense of the words ; and particular observations 
must not be stretched beyond the intention of the 

* See Macknight on RomatUj and Prelim. EsMif, 8. 


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writer. Let an author's ideas be er& so aocu^^ 
rate and definite, it is next to impossible, at all 
times, to select words which conyey to the iniiid» 
of others neither more nor less than his real 
meaning. Tins results from the inherent imper- 
fection of language ; for which reason, his expres- 
sions ought to be interpreted with such restric- 
tions as are necessarily required by common sense 
and the scope of the context. Many of the Pro- 
verbs of Solomon, according to the most g^ieral 
signification of the t^ms, convey sentiments un- 
reasonable and unjust ; and hence the commrai- 
tator is compelled to explain them with the 
limitation so evidently required by common 
sense and the nature of things. If several of 
the passages in the Ecclesiastes which have been 
condemned as absurd, or immoral and profane, 
be understood in a qualified sense, a sense clearly 
suggested by truth and reason, they will be vin- 
dicated from so heavy a chaise, and will be found 
in every respect worthy the inspired author from 
whom they proceed. 

Though the general tenor of the language 
approaches to the plainness and simplicity of 
prose compositions, it is occasionally highly orna- 
mented and figurative. In the beginning of the 
twelfth chapter is a specimen of boldness of me- 
taphor, and of combination of imagery, scarcely 
equalled, certainly not exceeded, in the most 


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poetical parts of the Old Testament. As the 
passage alluded to is singular, a more particular 
examination may not be improper. 

Ecclesiastes xii. 1 — 6, is generally considered, 
though, in my opinion, erroneously, as an all^ory 
descriptive of old age, and its final close in death.^ 
An all^ory is ^^ a repr^entation of one thing 
which is intended to excite the represaitation of 
another thii^," according to the definition of 
Bishop Marsh, who has treated this subject with 
that depth of thought and acuteness of discrimi- 
nation which distinguish all his writings.! The 
object selected to represent some other thing 
must be consistent in its several parts, and must 
be kept constantly in view. If a vine is chosen, 
as by the Psalmist, to depicture the situation of 
the Jews ; or if a ship, tossed by tempests, be 
selected, as it is by the sweetest of lyric bards, 
to represent the Roman State agitated with civil 
broils :\ these objects must be uniformly adhered 
to, or the allegory becomes inconsistait and 

* Besides the commentators, see Glass, PhU, Sac, p. 1297, ed.Dathe; 
Bauer, Hermeneut Sac, § 54 ; Lowtb, Pralect, 10, p. 119 ; Home, Intro- 
duction to the Seriptureif vol. ii. p. 676. Some have explained this passage 
in reference to the BabyloniSa and Roman Captivities^ and other fanciful 
expositions have been otfered ; (see Jerome, Comment, in loc. and Gen* 
ileman*8 Magazine for July and August, 1752 ;) but, whatever doubts may 
exist as to the mode of interpreting it, it has evidently reference to 
old age and its close. 

i Dwimtff Lecturet^ xvii. Van Mildert, Bampt, Led, viL p. 239. 
Home, Introduction, part iirchap. 5, ^ 4, ed. 2da. 

X PsaUn Ixxx. Horace, Carm. lib. i. 14. 


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obscure. With respect to the passage in qnes* 
tion, however, there is no one ruling and predo- 
minant object selected for the comparison ; the 
heayenly luminaries, the ahnond-tree, the grass- 
hopper, a palace, a bird, &c. are minted together 
in one Tivid description of venerable, but com- 
plaining age. It is not, therefore, stricdj speak- 
ing, an allegory ; and cannot, without great cau- 
tion, be subjected to the rules of allegorical 
interpretation. It is to be considered only as a 
h^hly figurative and poetical representetion of 
old age, in which the various infirmities and 
imbecilities of that period of life are portrayed by 
a great variety of images, in themselves uncon- 
nected, yet mutually tending to identify the 

The picture, then, consists of an accumulation 
of images, drawn fi-om various objects, yet con- 
tributing, in their combination, to the truth and 
accuracy of the likeness. Being in th^nselves 
imconnected, the only relationship they have 
consists in their mutually identifying the portrait 
with the original; and, consequently, while each 
is to be explained by iteelf, all must be explained 
in ir^erence to the symptoms of age. But as, in 
ev&ry metaphorical expression, there is a literal 
and tropical sense, it becomes a question of great 
importance how far the figurative sense is to be 
carried. Is every minute point of resemblance 


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to be mvestigated and applied? Are the inmges 
intended to depicture the effects of age with 
philosophical exactness and anatomical preci-. 
sion? Or is it only an outline delineation of life's 
last stage, sketched, indeed, with a bold and 
vigorous hand, but designed only to conveyN a 

Some expositors, fond of refining upon what 
is plain, and of extracting recondite meanings 
from what is simple, have endeavoured to ascer- 
tain the accuracy of the portrait by a scientific 
and medical investigation. Among these must 
be classed the jurtly-deserving names of l^nith 
and Mead, who have displayed great eruditi(»i 
and talent in the attempt to establish their systan ; 
but their learned labours, as may be inferred 
from several considerations, have only raised a 
visionary, though degant structure.* 

The nature of figurative diction almost pro- 
hibits logical accuracy. It is the language of 
imagination, not of reason and judgment; and, 
therefore, it obtains to a greater extent in the 
early periods of society than in times of civilization 
and refinement. This airy, but pleasmg creation 
of the fancy, disappears before the sober march 
of reason and philosophy. In poetry and fiction 

* See Dr. Smith's SoUmorCi Portraiture i^ Old Age, and Dr. Mead's 
Miikm Sacra. 


•^^ Digiti 

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it still retains a place, and a much more con- 
spicuous one in Eastern works of imagination 
llian European. " We are sparing in the use of 
figuratire langus^e; the Asiatics indulge in it 
with a daring prodigality: we are studious of 
propriety in metaphors, and that they may aris^ 
easily and naturally from the subject ; they are 
delighted with a rapid accumulation of them: 
we endeavour to render them neat and elegai^t 
with simplicity; they, rejecting things common 
and trite, are captivated with far-fetched images, 
which they multiply even to satiety : the poets 
of Europe chiefly design to write with agreeable- 
ness and perspicuity ; those of Asia with a vast 
and unrestrained luxuriousness."* The nature 
of figurative language, therrfore, especially a$ 
employed by Oriental bards, renders it probable, 
that nothing more was intended, in this portrait 
of old age, than to exhibit a general view of its 
character and infirmities.t 

* ** Nos translationes mitlgare solemus, ac leoire ;, Asiatict vero^ 
temere et incitatiiis exaggerare : nos studemus ut verecundae sint, et 
qiodammodo se facile insinaent raetapb«r%; illi, at luolenti imumt; not, 
ut sint politae, nitidae, venustae, nee longe doctae ; illi res pervagatas et 
in medio positas transvolant, et interdnm longissime repetitair captant 
imagines, qnas ad satietatem usqae camulant : Eor^psi deni^ue p«etie in 
eo potissimum laborant at jacnnde, at delucide scribant ; Asiatici, ot 
Taste, at luxariose, ut dissolute." — (Sir Wm. Jones, Poe$. Anat. Comment, 
cap. i.) The terseness of this cannot be translated into tite-' English 
language, but it is imitated above. 

f ** Omnis aevi pockiis, prsesertim rudioris, tantam imagiimra prtt se 
fert copiam, ut exquisitam ubiqae ne poscamus diMgentiam ant ingenil 
subtilitatem prorsas vetat/'— Copleston, Prtekci, Aeikiem; xxxr. fr« 4S^ 


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Besideg, medical knowledge^ in all probability/ 
had not made sufficient progress in Solomon's 
era to liable a writer of that age to describe, 
with anatomical accuracy, the effects of age upon 
the human ccmstitution.^ It is wdl known, that 
the ancient Greeks did not practise dkssection, 
which is absolutely necessary in order to obtain 
a correct knowledge of the intamal structure of 
the human frame; and there is no reason for 
supposing that the science of anatomy had made 
greater progress among the Asiatics.f The 
rapidity with which dead animal bodies are 
reduced to a state of putrescence, in the hot 
climates of the East, presents an ahnost iii- 
superaMe impediment to its cultivation. Though 
physicians and the art of medicine are oft^i 
mentioned in the Sacred Writings, (Gen. 1. 2; 
8 Chr<m. xri. 12; Isaiah i. 6; Jer. viii. 22^ xlvi. 
11; Ezekidi xxx. 21,) we find no allusiim to 
anatomical knowledge. It has been assarted, 
I am aware, that they contain many testimonies 
proving the Hebrews to have been acquainted 
wkh several of the internal psurts of the human 
body ; but, setting aside the passage in question, 
wh^e is there either mention of, or allusion to, 

* Ooogutti Origm 9fLQW$9 par. i. tib. 8, cap. I. Encyckp^d. Britau, 
art Aaatomy. 

f DaaM Lt Clare tappoMt they might inyestigate the anatomy of the 
body by intpectiag wounds, dead animals, &c. without the practice of 
i.*-»J»Mf« ie la JIMim#, par. i. Ub. 2. 


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any part of the human oi^anization, which might 
not be made by a person entirely miacquainted 
witii physical science.* The practice of dis* 
section must have been inqiossible among the 
Hebrews, with whom the touch of a dead body 
occasioned a legal defilement.-^Numb. xix. 11, 
et seq.) Neither could they derive a knowledge 
of the physiology of man from other nations, all 
of whom were far behind the Isradites in the arts 
and sciences, exception, peiiiaps^ the Egyptians; 
and ev^ among them the science of medicine 
was in its rudiments at the time of which we are 
speaking.! It was, therefore, morally impossible 
for an ancient Jew to describe, with anatomical 
correctness, the ravages of disease, or the 
maladies of age. 

If we could even suppose, that the king of 
Israel, whose knowledge of the works of nature 
was preeminently great, was acquainted with the 
anatomical structure of the human body; yet 

* That the Hebrews were acquainted with anatomy to axsouldemblt 
extent has been asserted, among others, by Jahn, Arckaokgia Hehraa^ 
p. 165. Bishop Horsley thought that the circulation of the blood was 
knows by the author of the Ecdesiastes; (Horsl^, Sermmty vol, lii* 
p. 190, Lond. 1818 ;) but it is an opinion without adequate support. In a 
question as to the mode of interpreting Ecdesiastes xii. 1—0, that passage 
must be set aside ; for any appeal to it is a mere begging of the question. 

f Brueker, Hut. Pkihmph. lib. i. cap. 8. Shnekford, Cmm§et. Ub. ix. 
▼ol. 2, p. 424. OuogueC, Origin </ Law§^ par. L lib; 8, cap. 1, art^ 2. 
The learned Warburton, who is iacluMd to exalt the antiquity and arts of 
Egypt, thinks anatomy was, in very ancient times, luwwii and studied by 
the Egyj^ians*— iHv. Legai, lib. iv. f J. 


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why should he communicate this knowledge in 
metaphor and figure, rather than 'in the simple 
diction of philosophy and truth? If he had 
designed to describe, as a physician, the effects 
of age, why did he choose the language of poetry, 
which is so liable to be mistaken ? It is true, 
it has been asserted, that the appellations in 
Ecclesiastes xii. 1 — 6 may possibly have been 
the names current among the learned, by which 
certain parts of the human body were distin- 
guished. It would require very strong evidence, 
indeed, to give a colour of credibility to this 
opinion; but none has been produced, and it 
remains a mere supposition, altogether destitute 
of support firom any other part of the Sacred 
Writings. The whole passage is evidently figu- 
rative, and it is unreasonable to suppose that 
Solomon would convey anatomical information 
in such language.* 

Again, for what purpose should he insert a 
medical disquisition in amoral discourse, adapted 
to readers of every class, and intended for general 
edification? An account of the evils attendant 
upon declining years may be very suitably intro- 
duced into a treatise in praise of Wisdom ; but it 

* ** Egregie observatom est ab Michaele, hanc senectatis descriptionem 
poeticam ease, poeseos aatem rationem Don ferre, nt res accorate ac 
secandnm veritatem delineentur, sed at depingantur secandam rationeni 
externi earum habitus, quo sensibus nostris masiime obversantur, Stc," — 
J. H. van der Palm, Annott in Eccle$, xii. 1. 


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is surely unnecessary for it to be drawn up vnth 
anatomical skill. Scientific details, which \<^ould 
interest but few, even of those who were capable 
of understanding them, would be misplaced and 
absurd in a work adapted for popular instruction. 
In short, it is every way unlikely that the royal 
sage intended to convey any recondite mean- 
ing under the veil of figurative language, and 
certainly it never was the intent of Inspiration 
to instruct mankind in the results of natural 

For these reasons it is right to reject the 
opinion of those who assert the scientific ac- 
curacy of Solomon's portraiture of age. It is 
more just to consider it as a highly-finished pic- 
ture of the pains and debilities consequent upon 
decaying nature, delineated, indeed, by a skilfiil 
hand and glowing imagination, but only intended 
to exhibit such effects of age as naturally suggest 
themselves to a sagacious and observing mindt 
It is, therefore, improper to explain, by the aid 
of medical science, a poetical description which 
requires a popular illustration, founded on Asiatic 
customs and the nature of figurative language. 
It is not consistent with the rules of critical 
interpretation to seek for hidden meanings m 
particular words, or for anatomical kno'tdedge 
under figurative expressions. In a poem, ex- 
quisite for the beauty and variety of the images, 


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k is sufficient if we obtain a more general idea 
convef ed by the imag^y ; and upon these prin- 
ciples the subjoined interpretation of Ecclesiastes 
xii. J — 6 is conducted. 

Aftar having ascertained the true exposition, 
we are naturally led to inquire into the fidelity 
of the description. Does it accord with truth 
and nature ? Are the dark and sombre colours 
of the picture agreeable to the reality ? And is 
the closing scene of human existence not only 
deprived of positive enjoyment, but, moreover, 
subjected to a burden of actual suffering? 

Though the passage, if taken in an isolated 
view, may seem to imply the affirmative, we may 
rest assured, that it cannot be the design of the 
Preacher to characterize old age as itself an evil. 
Gray hairs, fulness of years, and a good old 
age are frequently represented, in the Sacred 
Writings, as pecuUar blessings. It was promised 
to Abraham, for his comfort, that he should be 
** buried in a good old age ;" which accordin^y 
was accomplished. — (Gen. xv. 15, xxv. 8.) It is 
mentioned as a blessing enjoyed both by Gideon 
and David, that they died in an advanced period 
of life.— {Judges viii. 32; 1 Chron. xxix. 28.) It 
is said by holy Job, of the man whom the Lord 
correcteth, that he shall ^' come to his grave in 
a full age^ like as a shock of com cometh m his 


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season/' — (Job v. 36.) Ercii Sk^mon lumseif 
declwes, that ^^ the hoary head is a cio^m of 
glory, if it be found in the way of righteouaneBs," 
and that '^ the beauty of oU mat 13 tbcur.gray 
head/'-^Prov. xvi. 31, xx. 2». 

dd age, as is apparent from daily observation, 
isnot unfrequently a seaismi of serenity and ehearh 
fulness, llie diminutionof animal vigour UL com*- 
peasated by the improvement of die mittd throng 
kiidwiedge and experience. The aouteness of 
die senses, the elasticity of the imagimitioiiv and 
the ard^it relish and pursuit >of pleasure^ which 
predomi^iate in youth, are no more; but they are 
^K^baiJ^ged for other sources of happinesft.mmse 
pure and sedate, more enduing, and more agisee* 
able to a rational and intellectual nature. With 
ail its bodily weaknesses, age is not only vener- 
able, but is o&xia ibe period of eietensive oftefnl-^ 
ness, of active benevcienoe, and of mental tran-t 
^^uUity and ei^oyment, as is exhibited. by. Sifi 
Tbomaa Bernard, in his pleasing work on the 
Comforts of Old Age, aad as is elegantly da^ 
s<^bed by Cicero, m his treatise Ih Sen^tutB, 
which' most scholiars have read in thctr .youths 
and which no one can p(^tise without. umMoced 
adimration and d^%ht. . ji : ; ^ o. 

But thoilgh age is o&m thus serene, coiitentod, 
and colnpos^d, . and, unid^ any cincuttUitanomM 



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may ahrays be cheered by the hope of uniB!(H'- 
tality, yet it is manifestly often accompanied by 
auch maladies of the body, and such decay of 
the mental powers, as to render existence a pro- 
tracted suffering* And this is sufficient to justify 
the description. Throughout the whole picture 
the royal plulosopher must be understood as 
driiheating, not that which universally happens, 
but tlmt which is the frequent, perhaps, usual, 
effect of advancing years. Since a painful de- 
cpe^tttde is a common, though not invariable, 
eonsequence of old age, he mentions it hypo- 
dietieally, and exhorts the sons of n^n td b^m 
m coursB of piety in their eaily years, before tiiat 
MMon €sl life arrives in which weakness, piain, 
and infirmity may naturally be expected.* 

The description must, likewise, be taken iti 
connexion wkh the Preachar's ai^ument, which 
is to exhort mankind to die early cultivation et 
MMgious habits. ** Remaaib^ now thy Orebttor 
in the days of thy youth, before the' evil days 
eome^ and the years draw nigh, when thou 4shalt 
say, I have no pleasure in them." If the attain- 
ment Qf wisdom be nq^lected in early y^urs, the 
tamuB in&rmities of age may arrive, and pitess 
so heavy upon decaying nature, as to prevent so 
necessary an acquisition. Little can be expected 
tpom applying to the cultivation of religion at a 
time when the outwaitt fraiiM is bowled down 


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-with disease, and the understanding is fast re- 
kq[>sing into imbecility and dotage; it is, thereiiMre^ 
tbe part of prudence to use every exertion to 
acquire wisdom before the period of life when 
such maladies are not unc(Hnmon, and are, am*- 
sequaitly, alwiays to be apprehended. 

Moreover, according to the reasomng oi a 
pious Jew, who believed the temporal sanctions 
*of the Law, religious habits and dispositions 
could alone secure the comforts of a green old 
Bge. liengl^ of days and earthly happiness \mag 
the Mosaic promise to obedience, Solomon^a 
ailment may be understood to go to this extent, 
that, if Wisdom be despised and neglected in 
youth, the threat of the Law will take effect, and 
the old age of the scoffer will be a period of 
suffering and misery. To be religious, a Jew 
would argue, is the only way to escape the aches; 
and pains, and tortures with which age is often 
visited as the punishment of precedent fotty ; 
therefore, " remember thy Creator in the digm 
of thy youth, before the evil days come," for 
come they will, if thou rejectest Wisdom^ '' wh^ti 
thou i^alt say, I have no pleasure in them." 

The devout Christian may be so far a bdiever 
in a temporal retribution, as to maintain ttmt 
piety and virtue can alone secure the repose, and 
serenity, and eivjoyment whkh. ane sometunes 


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the fayoured privilege of the aged. It is inqposk 
^Ue to coaoaye, tlmt the last scene of a life 
spent in vice, and sensuaiity, and alienatioii from 
God can be happy. But to the nnn of piety, 
who can look back to years of uaefidness .ami 
honour, old age presei^ts a peacelul retreat from 
the bustle and business of the world, wh^e he 
floals upon tbe tide of life» pleoBts^ with the 
remembrance of die past, and exidting in the 
prospect of a haven of eternal faleasedness. ^^ To* 
the intdligent' and virtuous, old age presents a 
feme of tranquil ei^oyments, of obedient ap- 
l^etitew of wdl*4*egulated affiections, of maturity 
in knowledge, and of calm prqiaration for im- 
mortality. In this ser^ae and dignified state, 
placed, as k were, ontiie confines of two worlds, 
the mind of a good man reviews what is , pa^t 
wkb the complacency of sm approving con- 
adence; and looks forward, with humUe CQflk 
fidtonce in tlie mercy of God, and with devoid 
aspirations, towards his etenial andever^increas- 

'* These renmilcs osay suffice for the vindicalaoo 
of Sotdtton's portrait of old age from the charge 
of beuoLg inconsistent with truth and reality. Let 
v^f therefore, revert to the more immediate sub- 
jectiof this section. 

! . - ■. ■ ..... 

• Dr. Percival, quoted by Dr. Paley, in his Naiural Theology, chap. 
uvi'VfcciB me mm ainte obeervatioiM on old age. 


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SECT. V»] DlfilSERTATIOtf. XCill 

That tiie book cif Ecoleda^tes afforda examplesi 
^ iii^ilsr figurative language and poetical coh^ 
portion is unquestionable; but whether it was 
oidginally written in metrical numbers is a ques^ 
tiaa not so easily determined. The Babbinical 
writers are stated to hp unsttimous in regir«&ig 
k AS a prose composition; while the andent 
Fatifters of the Christian Church, on the cour 
tandry^ numbered it among the metrical books.^ 
Biblical, scholars, of modem times, are not more 
mHaiiimous, emment names bemg ranged on 
each side. Desvoeux pronounces it a philo^ 
sophical dSsoourse, written in prose, though in a 
rhetorical style, and interspersed with varses. 
Bishop Lowih, Vt. Bernard Hodgson, van der 
Palm, Baiter, and Jebb accede to this opinion,! 
^Huiph may derive some confirmation from the 
dncumBtance, that such a mode of ccmipositioB 
seems anciently to have obtained among the 
Qtientals. Some of the Hebrew canonical books 
contain an inteimixtiire of prose and verse; 
md we ksope a jumlar example in the MakcmeS 
of Hariri, <of which a portion has been pnbli^ed 
by Reiske aud Schultens, and translated by 

• fiM Sk mMkoxitMt in MtM^.mkUath. M^ wtL u. p. St, Mi 
Smcni LUenawre^ § 5. 


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Chapdilow.* Neyertheles8« tUs notion is op- 
posed both by the style and the circumscribed 
limits of the Ecclesiastes. Productions of great» 
extent, as the Prophecies of Jeremiah, for in- 
stance, which contain a variety of matters, s^me 
historical, and some prophetical, some of such 
a nature as almost to reject poetry, and others 
naturally inviting the highest decorati<»^ of 
imagination, may easily be conceived to be 
written partly in prose and partly in verse; but 
that this should be the case in a work of twelve 
short chapters, treating of one subject, which is 
never lost sight of by the author, and having tlie 
same turn of thought and the same character of 
diction from beginning to end, is an idea destitute 
of all probability. It is not meant by this to 
assert a perfect uniformity of style throughout; 
some diversity necessarily arises from the dif- 
ference of the topics : a moral preempt, and tike 
refutation of a so{^stical cavil, cannot be equally 
poetical vrith a description of human vanity, or 
of the maladies of age; there is, however, sudb 
a samaiess of phraseok^.and idiom, such a 

* At that period when the proud stnictare of the Roman empire wai 
bMtenbig to decay, and learning was in its wane, Boethivs wrote, in 
mixed vene and prose, his pleasing woriL, The CmuokHon ^ PkikBOfk^; 
hot no instance occurs to me of a similar prodoctfon hi tiie earfy ages of 
Greece and Rome. Bat in the East such a mixtnre of prose and tanie 
was extremely common*— See Carlyle's Spicmnu ^ Anbum PMrf, 

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general similarity of manner, as prove it to be 
whcAy prosaic, or wholly metrical, i 

To which class, then, ought the Ecclesiastes 
to be attributed? Several reasons establish the 
opinion, that it is written in metre. The qualities 
of the poetical style, which exist in the acknow* 
lodged metrical books, may, in some degree, be 
discovered in it ; a choice of epithets, a combin- 
ation of images, an inverted order of the words, 
a frequency of ellipses, an accumulation of rheto- 
rical figures, and, above all, that parallelism which 
is the great principle of Hebrew verse. These 
circumstances, occurring throughout the whole 
book, clearly determine its poetical character. 
Nor need it surprise u$ to find a grave and philo- 
sophical discourse in measured lines ; fi>r som^ 
of the didactic pieces in the Sacred Volume are 
written in the same maimer; as, for instance^ the 
aipimentative parts of the book of Job and ,th^ 
book of Proverbs. TheOrientals have always. had 
a wonderful predilection for metre : they not o^ily. 
^DQtployit on subjects of religion and morality,, 
but introduce it occasionally, where we, should; 
least expect it, in an historical record, and a dry, 
treatise on law. The Persian Sadder and tl^ 
Hindu Vedas exhibit, in thedr outward dr^s,,ia 
species of versification ; and the Koran, the great 
source of Mohammedan religioa and law, is, ,as 


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Sir William Jones observes, '^ composed in s^i- 
tences not only modulated witJi art, iMit 0&m 
exactly rhymed."* 

The hemistichal division, it is confessed, is not 
every where equally distinguishable : thoi^h, in 
a majority of instances, it is extremdy evident^ 
in others it is exceedingly obscure, p^iiaps un^ 
possible to be made out satisfactorily; but this 
is only what occurs in most of the metrical parts 
of the Sacred Volume. Bishop Lowth confesses 
he had frequent doubts in settling the distribution 
of the lines or verses, in his admirable tronslatioH 
of Isaiah; and Dr. Blaney acknowledges the 
same difficulty in his version of Jeremiah. "In 
the metrical division of the lines," ^lys he, "I feat 
I cannot always claim the merit of being exactly 
right. In some instances the case is clear, aBd ca- 
pable of being ascertained with the greatest preci*^ 
sion : is in the acrostic, or alphabetical poems, and 
wherever there is a plain and evident paralldisn 
in the construction of the sentences. But' where 
tibere is neither acrostic nor paralleKsm, tfaare nay 
be, and assuredly often is, versification^ if we may 
credit the similarity of diction, and other marktf 
of discrimination." Archbishop Newcome als» 
observes, that "doubts must always remain, not 

* Wdfict, vol. yiii. p. 164, Bvo ed. See wiko Sale, Prdkii, Disii.1^ iii. fi. 81« 


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only as to the division of particular lines which 
appear to have a poetical cast, but as to passages 
of some length whether they resolve themselves 
into metre or not."* 

The difficulty sometimes of ascertaining the 
h^nistichal division need not be matter of sur- 
fmse, when it is considered that the true pro- 
nunciation of the Hebrew is irrecoverably lost, 
and the nature of Hebrew metre entirely un- 
known. It would, indeed, be astonishing if, 
under these circumstances, we met with no per- 
plexity in tracing the versification of the Hebrew 
poets ; but, however intricate the subject may be, 
it would be uncritical, on that account, to regard 
any passage, or any book, as a prose composition. 
If the metrical division is found to exist clearly 
and unequivocally in a large proportion of the 
book, it is rational to infer that the whole is 
poetical, and that the parallelism is only obscure, 
in any particular instance, in consequence of our 
ignorance. Applying these observations to the 
Ecclesiastes, we observe the hemistichal arrange- 
ment so evidently to predominate, as to leave no 
doubt that the whole book is written in poetical 

* Newcome, Vers, qf the MtNor Prophets^ Pref. p. Iff. Blaney, Prei. 
Diis, io JeremUiht p. 9. Lowth, Prek Dim. to lutUtk, p. 49. See aba 
Pralect, 19. It is observed by Jabn, '' Membra parallel, poesi Hebrsae 
propria, non raro negleeta sunV-^Inirod. ad Lib, Sac. ^ 21S. 



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It may be observed, that the result of what has 
been advanced in this Dissertation is, that the 
book of Ecdesiastes is the genuine producticm. 
of Solomon; that it is of canonical autliority; 
that it is an inquiry into the Sumtnnm Banum^ 
which is determined to consist in Wisdom, or 
Religion, which Wisdom, or Religion, therefore, 
it is designed to recommend and inculcate ; and 
lastly, that it is written in a poetical style and 
in metre. It may, consequently, be characterized 
as a Didactic Poem m recommendation of Wis^ 
dom. — It is now time to advert to the nature and 
object of the present publication. 


The Object and Design of this Publication. 

A Paraphrase, strictly speaking, is an expo- 
sition of the author's sense in diffident words; 
but it is sometimes used to denote that species^ 
of explanatory illustration in which the author's 
expressions are interwoven with a commentary^ 
as in Doddridge's Family Eixyposkor. This latt^ 
mode of paraphrase is here adopted, as best cal- 
culated to explain and illustrate the reasoning of 
the royal philosopher. It is formed upon the 
basis of the authorized translation, from which, 
however, I have sometimes takeu the liberty to 


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depart; bat iHtBo instance without what appeasB 
to me the most vageAi necessityy or without being 
supported by the soundest principles of criticism. 
These d^artures from the standard version are 
not^iany; and whoever a different renderii^ is 
adi^ted^ it is indicated by the annexaticm of w 
afttenak in the mai^in. 

The ^u)compaiiymg Notes are intended to 
eskaldish the scope and design of the work> to 
point out the ebBm of ^gument, and to ^odbody 
such observations as seem proper to enforce and 
eluiiidate the whole. I have also added some 
Critical Notes^ designed either to show the coar* 
rectness of the received version, or to confirm^ 
by critical reasons, some other rendering here 
a€k>pted» or to discuss briefly some grammatical 
and philological question. As such r^narks ai^ 
<NQly intelligible to the learned reader, they are 
^eed at die ^id, as an Appendix, with proper 

The general principfes by which I have been 
^ided in Idbis IllastratioE of Ecclesiasteg being 
precisely the same as in my Attempt towards am 
Improved Transldfion of the Proverbs^ in the 
Preliminary Dissertation to which they are fully 
detailed, it is unnecessary to repeat them here ; 
I shall, therefore, conclude these remarks with a 


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few observations relative to attempts like the onq 
which is now submitted to the public. 

Mr. Bellamy's projected translation of the 
Bible, ushered into the world virith the moist 
presumptuous claims, and vnth a declared con- 
tempt for all former translators, has naturally 
awakened the attention of the learned to the 
merits of our authorized version. He openly 
avers, that " the common translations, in all the 
European languages, were made from the modem 
Septuagint and the Vulgate ;" that " the present 
authorized version, and all the national va^*sions 
of Europe, were translated from the Vulgate;" 
that our translators " confined themselves to the 
Septuagint and the Vulgate ; so that this was 
only working in the harness of the first translators ; 
no translation having then been made, fi*om the 
original Hebrew only, for 1400 years."* The 
gross absurdity of these assertions scarcely re- 
quires the refutation, though their pernicious 
tendency deserves the severe castigation, they 
have received from Todd, Whittaker, Hyman 
Hurwitz, and the Quarterly Reviewer; by whom 
the general excellence of the English Bible has 
been unanswerably demonstrated. 

* Bellamy's General Prtface, p. 1, 2, and IntrodueHonj p. 40, In these 
assertions he is followed by Sir James Bland Burges, Reasons in favour qf 
m new Translatimf p. 124. 


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It rensains a question, however, whether the 
laudable zeal of these writars, in defence of the 
English version, has not carried them too far. 
Neither the critical learning of our Translators 
was, peiiiaps, so great, nor the execution of their 
task so perfect as these authors lead us to sup- 
pose ; and the impression upon my own mind, 
from a perusal of their perfoomances, is, that they 
tend to exalt the merits of the English Bible 
somewhat beyond what any translation can justly 
claim. I would go a great way, though not the 
whole length, with these able advocates; and 
yield to none in sincere respect for the general 
fidelity and excellence of the standard version. 
Still I am convinced that it has numerous defects, 
that it is in some places unintelligible, in many 
erroneous, and in more might be improved. 
Even one of the learned antagonists of Mr. 
Bellamy acknowledges, that " the English trans- 
lation contains blemishes which call for cor- 
rection, and they who are most attached to it are 
the most anxious to see them removed."* 

These faults, it is readily granted, are not of 
such a nature as to affect essentially any article 
of faith, or any rule of duty ; but they are, never- 
theless, faults, and surely it must be owned, that 

* Whittaker's Hiitorical and Critical Inquiry ^ &c. p. 40. ; see also p. 110* 


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it would be better, were it possible, to haye them 
rectified. For this reas(Mi mamy sound and 
eminent divines have recommended a revision by 
public aiithority; but, with deference to their 
judgmoit, it may well be douMed whether the 
period has yet arriyed for the due execution of 
an undertaking so momentous.^ 

Questions of Soriptural criticism remain un- 
decided suffi<ientiiy numerous to preclude the 
hope of giving uniyersal, or even general satis- 
Action, by a new revision of the public translaHon. 
It is y€^ in dii^ute what text shoidd be estab* 
lifibed for the basis of an improved vei^ioii, 
VFhether the received text, as I am mdymied to 
bdieve, shoidd be followed, or it should be in- 
novated upon by bold and (shall I say?) pre- 
suiiq)tuous critici^. It is not agreed what credit 
may be due to the kindred dialers, nor how fax 
the ancient versions should prevail. We are stiE 
destitute of the mttcal editions cxf the Syriac 
version and the Targums; nor have the stu- 
pendous eflforts of modem intellect removed all 
theobsourities in which many passages of the 
bupired Writings are involved. 

* See Remarks on the Criticdl PfincipUs adopted by Writers who have 
ffifmrnniied a New TratuiUdUn ^f the BibU, 8vo, Oxford, 1920, taid tke 
same anonymous Author's Reply to Prqfestor Lee, 8vo, Oxford, 1821, in 
both of which Pamphlets there are some excellent observations on this, 


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Under these circumstances, an authorized re- 
vision of the English Bible, instead of produciim; 
any substantial good, is more likely to create 
divisioa and dissension, to augment the bitterness 
of controversy, and to animate the fiury of con- 
tendii^ zeal. Whatever, alteratkms: are made, 
th^ will be considered, by different sects and 
pasties, as more or less affecting their respective 
tenets; and* there can be 'no tame spectator of 
an attempt, in which all will believe their vital 
mterests are concerned. In the present dis- 
tempered state of the public mind, the most 
disastrous consequences might be apprehended 
from an undertaking which would almost m- 
evitably plui^e it into the turbulent ocean of 
polemical theology. While rival scholars would 
support th^ several systems with the stubborn- 
ness of preconceived opinion, the belief of well- 
meaning, but illiterate, minds would be liable to 
be shaken by a change in what they have been 
accustomed to revere as the standard of theis 
faitb. The style and phraseology of the au- 
thorized version have become venerable; it has 
acquired a sacredness of character by being 
handed down, for two centuries, ^om father to 
son, as Ubie Word of God ; its verj etrors aire, 
m a manner, consecrated by the reveraatial re^ 
speet of the people ; and it V9 not likely that any 
superioi! accuracy would, tin ^ present feverish 


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state of public opinion, compensate for the 
dangers of innovation. 

Nor would the danger be altogether avoided 
by commencing the design with a few alterations, 
such as the generality of Biblical scholars would 
improve ; for, be the alterations greater or less, 
some would, probably, consider them as levelled 
against their peculiar opinions, while the ignorant 
and prejudiced would, most likely, be shocked 
by any change in what, they have been accus- 
tomed to revere. It is, in all cases, a hazardous 
attempt to alarm the religious feelings of the 
people. With whatever specious pretences re- 
form may be recommended, it is always a mea- 
sure of peril, unless the necessity be evident, and 
most of all in the article of religion ; a subject so 
identified vidth the most exalted hopes, so inter- 
woven with the noblest sentiments and most 
generous feelings of the soul, that it is neither 
politic nor wise to tamper with that, around 

which she throws the veil of her consecration. 


Were an improved version substituted, it may 
reasonably be feared that it would excite, in the 
minds of many, a desire of further change^ to the 
progress of which it would not be easy to set 
bounds. At present all sects and parties have 
one common standard, to which they appeal in 


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their interminable controversies; but if a revised 
translation were substituted by public authority, 
the half-learned would plume themselves by ad- 
vancing their crude conceptions in opposition to 
it ; the pride and independence of sectarianism, 
it is reasonable to suppose, would reject it as the 
mandate of spiritual tyranny ; different sects might 
possibly claim a right of representing their sense 
of the original in a version for their own use; and 
when it is fiirther considered, that eveiry version, 
in some degree, receives a tincture from the pe- 
culiar bias of the translator ; that all men are 
prone to believe, upon slender evidence, what- 
ever favours their own dogmas; and that, in this 
age, every means which ingenuity can devise are 
eagerly pursued to inculcate the prejudices of 
dissent, we might expect to see Calvinistic and 
Arminian, Swedenborgian and Socinian Bibles. 
A manifest tendency to such a state of things 
appears in the attempts of the Unitarian Society 
for Promoting the Knowledge of the Scriptures, 
under whose auspices have been published Dod- 
son's New Translation of Isaiah^ formed in sup- 
port of their tenets, and what is called zxi Improved 
Version of the New Testament^ which, for ab- 
surdity of exposition, prostitution of criticism, 
and perversion of the Apostolic meankig, is un- 
equalled in the annals of sacred literature, and, 
it is to be hoped, will evar remain without a rival, 


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CVi .FREiJlfINA.aY [9SCT. Y(. 

Ccmsidaruig the temper of the nge, the beneftt 
to be expected from a, reviakm of the Slngltah 
tean^llBttion bears no proportion to the evil. Its 
gjenwal fidelity and truth are attested by aU wba 
ave cOnp^ent to form a sound j^dgmmt of it ; 
tmd it would surely be unwise to encounter .Ui^ 
Deal danger of alteration for problematicfd good* 
(Mye to translation all the perfection which 19 
possible to human ability, it is still of less an*- 
thority than the original ; it is only a transfusion 
of the truth; and the derivative stream can nev^r 
rival the freshness and limpid purity of the foun- 
tain from which it flows. Whatever version be 
es^ined for public use, it will still remain the 
4uty, of such as have the ability, to investigate 
Divine truth at its source, in the Hebrew, Chaldee, 
and Greek originals. To this source the jbsamed 
ought and will apply for the establishment ef 
their fsoth; and the unlearned may be abxmdantly 
satisfied with the authorized translation, which 
is doctrinally correct, inimitable for its dignified 
sknipdicity, asid fully adequate to aJU the pur- 
poses, of reproof, of correctipn^ of instruction iQ 

It is not intended to assort the absolute per- 
fection of the Eqglish version^ or the ineiEpe- 
diracy of ev^ aittempting its improv^nent; b^t 
only, th«t ndyther the £}tate of thediogicQl l^imning, 


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SfeCT. Tt.] DrsSBUVATION. t^ 

not the spirit of' the dtnes, ar« such m to rea- 
der a revision, at pre$ent^ ekher wise or expe^ 
di^it. To free it from the imperfectiofis wUdi 
it cotifessecHy has, is a design truly excdlmit> 
wete it practicable ; and the time will, d<mb<lemy 
come when it may be executed with safety; but, 
if th^e is any force in the preceding observations^ 
it has not yet arrived. The most efficacious 
means of hastemng the accomplishment of an 
object so desirable is, to promote the difiusion of 
religious knowledge, for the projected improve- 
ment must follow, not precede, public opinion. 
A change in matters relating to religion, except 
the public are prepared for it, can seldom, if ever, 
be attempted vnth success. They must, in some 
measure, invite it, or they will take the alarm ; 
and no people ever suffered the invasion of what 
they deem their religious interests, without op- 
position and without a struggle. 

Let those scholars, therefore, whose duty it 
more especially is to be mighty in the Scriptures, 
apply, vdth unabating ardour, to their critical 
illustration. Let them communicate the result 
of their inquiries in works intended, like the 
present performance, for the closet and for the 
edification of the private reader. In short, let 
every aspirant at the shrine of theology throw 
his mite into the treasury of sacred criticism, in 


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the pleasing hope that the period will arrive, 
wh^i» through the progress of Biblical learning, 
and the influence of Christian dispositions, una- 
niinity in articles of faith will more prevail; wh^n 
the perturbed spirit of party, if it will not entirely 
vanish, will, at least, be deprived of its virulence; 
and when the combined labours of theologians 
may produce a more perfect representation of 
the sacred original than the world has yet seen. 


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1. The Tanky of all eartbly thiags.—Ch. i 2. 

2. The unprofitableness of human labour, and die traasttoriness 

of human life. — Ch. i. 3—11. 

3. The vanity of laborious inquiries into the ways and works 

of man.— Ch. i. 12 — ^18. 

4. Luxury and pleasure are only ranity and rezation of spirit 

— Ch. ii. 1—11. 
6. Though the wise excel fods, yet, as deadi haf^pens to them 
bothy human learning is but vanity. — Ch. ii. 12 — 17. 

6. The vanity of human labour, in leaving it they know not to 

whom. — Ch. ii. 18 — ^23. 

7. The emptiness of sensual enjoyments.— Ch. ii. 24 — ^26. 

8. Though there is aproper time for the execution of aD human 

purposes, yet are they useless and vain; the Divine 
counsels, however, are immutable. — €^. iii. 1 — ^14. 

9. The vanity of human pursuits proved from the wickedness 

prevuling in courts of justice, contrasted vrith the 
righteous judgment of God. — Ch. iii. 16—17. 

10. Though life, considered in itself, is vanity, for mm die as 

well as beasts, yet, in the end, it vnll be very different 
with the spirit of man and that of beasts. — Ch. iii. 
18- 02. 

11. Vanity u increased unto men by oppression. — ^Ch. iv« 1 — 8. 

12. The vanity of prosf^rity. — Ch. iv. 4 

13. The vanity of folly, or of preferring the world to True 

Wisdom.— Ch. iv. 6—6. 

14. The vanity of covetousness. — Ch. iv. 7 — 8. 


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15. Though society has its advantages, yet dominion and 

empire are but vanity. — Ch. iv. 9 — ^16. 
Id. Enrors m the performance of Divine worshqiy which render 

it vain and unprofitable. — Ch. v. 1 — 7. 

17. Hie vanity of murmuring at injustice ; for though the oppres- 

sion of the poor and the perversion of judgment greatly 
prevail, they do not escape the notice of the Almighty. 
— Ch. V. 8 — 0. 

18. The vanity pf riches; with an admonition as to the moderate 

eii|03ment of tbem.— Ch. v. 10 — 20. 

19. The vanity of avarice. — Ch. vi. 1—9. 

PART 11. 

30. Since all human designs, labours, and eiyoyinanls are vain, 
it is natural to inquire, Whatis good lor man? Whatsis 
hka Supreme 6<H>d7 (Ch. vL 10 — 12.) Hie answer is 
contained in the remamder of the book. 

21. The prabe of character and reputation.^-^h. ?iL 1. 

22. Affliction knproves the heart, and exalts the dharaoter of 

the wise. — Ch. vn. 2 — 10. 

23. The excellence of Wisdom.— Ch. vii^ 11—14. 

24. An objection, with the answer* — Ch. viL %&, vui* 7. 

26. The evU of wickedness shows the advantage of Tiiae 
Wisdop.— Ch. viiL 8—13. 

26. An objection, with the answer.^Ch. viii. I4» ix. 1. 

27. An obj^pn» ynHk the answer. — Ch. ix« 2y x. 17» 

28. Thebasefidnessof sbth^— Ch. X.18* 
20l the power ai wealth,— Ck x. 19. 

30. An exhortation against speaking evil of ditmtiee.r— Oh. x. 


31. Exhortation to charity and benevolence^ — Ch« xi^ V^IO.. 

32. An eadioctation to the eariy cultivation of relqpioua habiii« 

— Ch.xii. 1— 7. 

33. The conduMon;— Ch. xiL 8— 14. 


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Thoie words wfaich, in die authoriied reraioB, are printed 
in Italics, are induded within Brackets in the following Para- 

The Asterisk (*) in the margin denotes that some alteration 
b made in the aathorised translation of the verse to which it is 


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Chapter I. 

1*The words oi Solomon J the Preacher, the son 
of David, king in Jerusalem. 

Sect. I. — ^The Vanity of all earthly 

2 With respect to the Chief Good of man, the 
things of this world are vanity of vanities, 
saith the Preacher ; they are indeed vanity of 
vanities ; yesy all [is] vanity, heing incapable of 
rendering him happy ^ and of securing his highest 


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Sect. II. — ^The Unprofitableness of Hu- 
man Labour, and the Transitoriness 
OF Human Life. 

3 In proof of this vanity of all things^ what 
profit hatfa a man, as far as regards his Chief 
Good, of all his labour which he taketh under 
the sun? Human labours cannot produce 

4 happiness; they are too transitory, for [one] 
generation passeth away, and [another] gener- 

^ ation Cometh; but the earth, nevertheless^ 
abideth for ever, as the abode of successive and 

5 fleeting generations of men. The sun also 

ariseth, <and the sun goeth down, and hasteth 

6 to his place where he arose. The wind goeth 
toward the south, and tumeth about unto the 
north; it whirleth about continually ; and the 
wind retumeth again according to his circuits. 

7 All the rivers run into the sea ; yet the sea [is] 
not full: unto the place from whence the 
rivers come, thither they return again. Thus 
terrestrial nature performs its stated courses 
and revolutions perpetually ; hut when man dies 
he appears no more on the earth: what solid 
good, then, can be expected from the labours of 

8*50 transitory a being I Besides, all things in 
which man so anxiously toils are wearisome; 
man cannot utter [it :] the eye is not satisfied 
with sedn^, nor the ear filled and satiated 
with hearing. And this must be the case, since 


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life is svhjected to a continual round of the 

9 same things; for the thing that hath be^i, it 

[is that] which shall be; and that which is 

done^ [is] that which shall be done: and 

10 [there is] no new [thing] under the sun. Is 
there [any] thing whereof it may be said, See^ 
this [is] new? It hath been already of old 
time, which was before us. This is tertain; 
yet we need not be surprised if it should not 
appear so to us, considering the defects of all 

1 1 historical records, since [there is] no perfect 
remembrance of former [things;] neither shall 
there be [ixay] perfect rCTiembrance of [things] 
that are to come with [those] that shall come 

Sect. III. — ^The Vanity of laborious 
Inquiries into the Ways and Works 

OF, Man. 

12* I, Solomon, the Preacher, am king over 

13 Israel, m Jefnsalem. And I gave my heart to 
seek and search out by wisdom concerning all 
human [things] that are done under heaven : 
this sore travail hathi God given to the sons 
of man, to be exercised therevidth, t . e. as a 
tri(d of their patience, humility y and resignation. 

14 I have seen and diligently investigated all the 
works that are done by men under the sun : 
and, behold, all such stuffy and inquiry [is] 
vamty in regard to the Chief Good of man. 


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and rather produces vexation of spirit them 

15 substantial happiness. [That which is] crooked 
cannot be made straight hy such knowledge; 
and it is at best so imperfect, that that which 
is wanting and defective in it cannot be num- 

16 bared. This conclusion is confirmed hy my 
oum experience, for I communed with mine 
own heart) saying, Lo, I am come to great 
estate, and have gotten more wisdom, respect-- 
ing the pursuits and works qf many than all 
[they] that have been before me in Jerusalem ; 
yea, my heart had great experience qf this 

17 kind of wisdom and knowledge. And I gave 
my heart, laboured diligently to know the 
works and pursuits of human wisdom, and also 
to know the works and pursuits of human 
madness and folly ; but I perceived that the 
ardent thirst after this knowledge also is pro-- 

18 ductive qf vexation of spirit. For in much 
wisdom, of this description, [is] much grief; 
and he that increaseth knowledge qf the la-- 
bpurs, either qf human wisdom or human foUy^ 
increaseth sorrow, since he perceives the more 
clearly, and thereby laments the more deeply, 
the vanity of all human pursuits. 

Sect. IV.— Luxury and Pleasure are 


Chap. II. 1. Seing disappointed in my 
expectations of happiness from curious and 


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philosophical speculations, I said in mine heart, 
Gro to now, I will prove thee with mirth; 
therefore enjoy pleasure, and try whether luxury 
and meiriment afford more solid satisfaction ; 
and, behold, this also [is] vanity, as I found 

2 from experience. I said of loud and excessive 
laughter, [it is] mad ; it is a mere phrensy of 
the mind; and of extravagant mirth, what 

3 doeth [it] as to rational satisfaction ? I also 
made trial of another kind of luxury and plea- 
surCy and sought in mine heart to give myself 
unto wine, (yet, al the same time, acquainting 
mine heart with vnsdom, and conducting my- 
self with discretion^) and to lay hold on other 
pleasures which, in the end, are found to be 
folly, till, by these experiments, I might see 
what [was] that real good for the sons of men, 
which they should do and pursue under the 

4 heaven all the days of their life. In further- 
ance of this object, I made me great and 
magnificent works ; I builded me houses ; I 

5 planted me vineyards ; I made me gardens 
and orchards ; and I planted trees in them of 

6 all [kind of] fruits; I made me pools of 
water, to water therewith the wood or nursery 

7 that bringeth forth trees ; I got [me] servants 
and maidens, and had servants bom in my 
house; also I had great possessions of great 
and small cattle, of herds and flocks, above 


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S^all that were in Jerasalan before me: I 
gathered me also silvar and gold, and the 
peculiar treasure of kings and of the pro- 
vinces; I gat me men-singers and women- 
singers ; and, in shorty I procured all the de- 
9 'lights of human luxury. So I was great, 
and increased in wealth and splendour more 
than all that were before me in Jerusalem; 
also amid these scenes ofroyai luxury and mag- 
nificence my wisdom, which was the gift of 
God, remained with me unimpaired; {ver. 3.) 

10 And thus, preserving the empire of reason, I 
proved my heart with pleasure, and whatsoever 
mine eyes desired I kept not from them ; I 
withheld not my heart from any joy it desired; 
and I enjoyed all the delights this could afford^ 
for my heart rejoiced for a season in all my 
labour which I took in the pursuit of pleasure; 
and, after aJly this was my portion, the only 
thing thai accrued to mCy of all my labour, 

ll^that I looked and mused on all the works that 
my bands had wrought, and on the labour 
that I had laboured to do in expectation of 
obtaining happiness from luxury and self- 
indulgence; and, behold, all [was] vanity in 
respect to the Supreme Goody and produced 
vexation of spirit, instead of svhstantiai hap-- 
piness: and, m far as regards the reed end of 
life, [there was] no profit in them und» the sun. 


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Sect. V. — Though the Wise excel Fools, 
YET, AS Death happens to them both, 
Human Learning is but Vanity. 

12 And I turned myself to bdiold and to 
eofUempkUe the wisdom, and madness, and folly 
of mankind; (and the result merits attention^ 
for what more in this research [can] the man 
[do,] whoever lie may he^ that cometh after the 
king ? He can only do [even] that which hath 
been already done by me; he can form no other 

13 judgment than I have done,) Then I saw, m- 
deedjfrom such aninqyiryy that Ateman wisdom 
excelleth human folly, as far as light, which 
discloses the beauties of creation^ excelleth dark- 
ness, which conceals them in obscurity: because 

14 the wise man's eyes [are] in his head, in con- 
sequence of which he sees and avoids dangers; 
but the fool walketh in darkness, and stumbles 
into fatal errors: and yet, notwithstanding this 
superiority of worldly wisdom, I, myself, per- 
ceived also that one events death, happeneth 

15 to them all. Then said I in my heart. This 
is the case that as it happeneth to the fool, so 
it happeneth even to me who excel in wisdom^ 
both being subject to misery aand death; and 
why was I then solicitous to become more wise 
tha,n others, since I am not therdnf exempted 

from the stroke of fate ? Then I said in my 
heart, that this earthly wisdom al&o [i^] Yanit> 


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16 and inadequate to ensure comjiiete satisfaction. 
Besides y as the wise andfooHsh are subject to the 
same calamities in life, so are they to the same 
oblivion when dead; for [there is] no perfect 
remembrance of the wise (zfier deaths more 
than of the fool for ever ; seeing that which now 
[isy] in the days to come shall all be forgotten : 
and how dieth the wise [man ?] as the fool. 
As far as human wisdom is concerned^ there is 

17*110 difference. Therefore I was weary of the 
life / was leading; because the work that is 
wrought under the sun tuith a view to procure 
real happiness [is] found hy trial to be griev- 
ous unto me : for all of it [is] vanity in regard 
to man's Sovereign Goody and rather produces 
vexation of spirit than substantial Imppiness. 

Sect. VI. — ^The Vanity of Human Labour, 
IN leaving it they know not to whom. 

18* Yea, I was weary of all my labour which I 
had • taken under the sun in search of perma- 
nent satisfaction ; because I cannot long enjoy 
the fruits of it, and must leave it unto the man 

19 that shall be after me. And who knoweth 
whether he shall be a wise [man,] and use it 
well, or a fool and abuse it? Yet, whatever 
may be his character ^ shall he have rule over 
all the fruit qfmj labour wherein I have la- 
boured, and wherein I have showed myself 
worldly wise under the sun. This [is] lahour 


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CHAP. II-] £CCLBSIi^STfiS. 11 

m secular works, ako vanity, and disappoints 
30 expectation. Therefore, being convinced of the 
emptiness of those acquisitions which are both 
unsatisfactory in themselves, and may fall into 
the hands of fools, I went about to cause my 
heart to despair of reaping any substantial 
good from all the labour which I took under 
21^the sun. For, granting that there is a man 
whose labour in the things of this world hath 
been conducted with wisdom, and with know- 
ledge, and with success ; yet to a man that 
hath not laboured therein shall he leave it [for] 
his portion. This labour also [is] vanity tie 
regard to man's Chief Good, and a great evil. 

22 For what real advantage hath man of [from] 
all hislahour in worldly pursuits, and of [from] 
the vexation of his heart which such labour 
creates, and wherein he hath laboured under 

23 the sun? None that is really satisfactory; for 
all his dsy 8 peissed in such works [are] (Mended 
with sorrows, and his travail in them is pro- 
ductive of grief: yea, through anxiety about 
them, his heart taketh no rest in the night. 
This labour is also vanity in regard to man's 
Sovereign Good. 

Sect. VII. — ^The Emptiness of Sensual 

2A* The Chief Good of men consists not in sensual 
enjoyments, foi' the man enjoys not true 


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13 BCCLESIASTSa. [fabt .^* 

happitt^M that eats and 4riaks> 4mi lives 
htauriamfyf aad indulges himself with the 
finut of all his labour. This ordination also I 
perceive is from the hand of God ; and I have 

%^'^ proved the truth qf it from eocperience* for who 
can eat, or who can hasteu to Ittscnrious 

SO svjOYHENTs more than I ? Yet 1 ham only 
reaped frofin them mortification and diegnet. 
Such indulgences, being criminal^ are delusive j 
for [Grod] giveth to a man that [is] good in 
his sight, wisdom, and knowledge, and joy ; 
but to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather, 
and to heap up, that he may give to [him that 
is] good before God. This gratification of 
sense also [is] vanity in regard to the Chi^ 
4arood, and rather produces vexation of spirit 
than true happiness. 

Sect. VIII. — ^Though there is a proper 
Time for the execution of all Human 
Purposes, yet are they useless and 
vain; the Divine Counsels, however, 
are immutable. 

Chap. III. 1. Though all secular works 
and pursuits are insufficient to ensure complete 
satitfaction, it is not intended to pronounce 
them criminali thejf not only may, but ought to 
he performed; for to every [thing there is] a 
Jit and appropriate season^ and a proper time 
to execute every purpose under heav^ : there 


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CHAF. III.] BCCLiaiASTEtf^ 1ft 

S if n pred^terminaU time to be bom, ud a 
prtditemUnate time to die; a proper time to 
plant, and a tkne to jJuck np [that which is] 

5 planted ; a time to kill judicUdfy, and a tim^ 
ptnoper for attempting to heal Hfirf retwer 
keaith; a time to break down a bnikkngy and 

4 a time to build up €mother; a time to weep, 
and a time to laugh ; a time to mourn, and a 

6 time to dance ; a time to cast away stones, 
and a time to gather istotkes together; a time 
to embrace^ and a time to refrain from em- 

• bracing ; a time to get, and a time to lose ; a 

7 time to keep, and a time to caist away ; a time 
to rend, and a time to sew; a time to ke^p 

a nlence, and a time to speak ; a time to love, 
and it lame to hate; a time oi war, and a 
time of peace. But, tho^^k tker6 ii a Jit 
season when every purpose of man may he ex- 
ecuted without btame, yet, with respect to the 

9 true end of being, what profit hath he that 

worketh in that wherein he labouret^t None; 

for he is still as far from happiness as before. 

10 This is the result of my reseofrches, and I have 
seen and considered the travail which God 
hath given to the sons of mai, to be exercised 
by it and in it And I find thai, although 

ll*he hath made every thing beautiful in its 
season, and established the course of nature 
with tfanseendent wisdom ; ybt he hatii also 
put otecturity m the midirt of tb^n, M$ works 


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being intricate and myeteriaus^ so that man, 
from the b^;uming to the end, cannot find 
out and perfectly comprehend the work that 

12 God doeth. Yet, notwithstanding this in- 
scrutability of God's works^ I know that [there 
is] no good in them, but for [a man] to rejoice^ 
to be content with, and grtUe/id/or them, and 
to do good in his life, to himself^ by such a 
becoming enjoyment of terrestrial things, and 

13 to others^ by a liberal and charitable use. And 
also that every man should be permitted to eat 
and drink, and enjoy the good of all his 
labour, it [is] the gift of God, arising from 

14 his benevolent ordination; and I know that 
whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ev&r, 
it shall be immutable; nothing can be put to 
it, nor anything taken from it; and God doeth 
[it'] for this end and purpose, that [men] should 
fear before him; aU his works being ordered 
in the manner best cakulcUed to inspire religious 
reverence and veneration. 

Sect. IX. — ^The Vanity of Human Pur- 
MENT OF God. . 

15* As before assertedj (ch. i. 9,) that which hath 
been is now ; and that which is to be hath 


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already been; there is a continual round of 
the same painsy disappointments^ trials, afflic- 
tions, persecutions, fjgc. ; and yet God will re- 
quire (i. e. will revenge) the persecuted man. 

16 Andy moreover, notwithstanding the certainty 
of thisy I saw under the sun the place of 
judgment, [that] wickedness [was] there; and 
the placeof righteousness, [that] iniquity [was] 

17* there. I said, however, in mine heart, and 
reflected within myself, that God will finaUy 
judge the righteous and the wicked; (for there 
is a season for every purpose of God to take 
effect;) and he wiU, either here or hereafter, 
det^mine concerning every work, whether it 
be good or had. — Ch. xii. 14. 

Sect. X. — ^Though Life, considered in 


WELL AS Beasts; yet, in the end, it 
WILL be very different witk the 
Spirit of Man and that of Beasts. 

18 I said in mine heart, I reflected within my- 
self, concerning the estate of the sons of men, 
and I find it is so ordered ^ that God might 
manifest or prove them, and that they might see 
that they themselves are subject to death like 

19 beasts. For that which befalleth the sons of 
men befalleth beasts ; even one thing, namely, 
deathy befalleth them; as the one dieth, so 
dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; 


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M that, in this respect^ a man hath no fve- 
moisktnce above a beast: for all amimated 
lUthare [ia] vanity, equally frml and tMttal. 

M The bodies of all, whether men or beasts, go 
wito one place, the earth; for all their bodies 
are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. 
Butf with respect to the living, or vital principle 

tl within them, who knoweth, or can comprehend 
the immense difference between the spirit of man 
that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast 

M that goeth downward to the earth? Where- 
l(Mre, though men as well as beasts die, yet, since 
their spirits return to God who gave them, I 
perceive that [there is] notiiing better tiian 
that a man shotdd rejoice in his own works, 
and be contented; for that necessity of labouring 
[is] his portion appointed by the Almighty to 
prove him; (compare ver. 18;) for who shall 
bring him to see what shall be after him? 
Who shall lead him to discover what shall 
happen in this world after his death ? 

Sect. XI. — Vanity is increased unto 
Men by Oppression. 

Chap. IV. 1. So I returned, and consi- 
dered all the oppressions of mankind that are 
done under the sun: and, behold, the tearii 
of [such as were] oppressed, and they had no 
coiiifolrt«r; and on the side of their oppres- 
•ora [there was] power; but they (i.e. the 


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CfiilF. IT.] ECCLEfilASTES. 17 

3 oppressed) had no comforter. Whwefore, tf 
tkis worid amd human pursuits are to ko re- 
garded ms the things of highest value, I praised 
tlie dead which are already dead more than 
the living which are yet alire^ inasmuch ms it 
wouM he better to die than to endure the per^ 
secutions which are inflicted hy tyranny and 

^ mice. Yea, if this life and its pleasures were 
our ail, better [is he] than both they which hath 
not yet been, who hath not seen or experi" 
enced the evil work that is done under the sun. 

Sect. XII. — ^The Vanity of Prosperity. 

4* Again^ I considered all travail, and every 
prosperous work, and I perceive that for this 
a man is envied of his neighbour, from which 
arise many evils. Hence this prosperity, much 
as it is sought after by the world, [is] also 
vanity, in respect t(t man's Chief Good, and 
rather produces vexation of spirit than real 

Sect. XIII. — ^The Vanity of Foli-y, or 
OF preferring the World to True 

5 Again, I considered that the fool, who hath 
made this world his ally foldeth his hands 
togedier in fm agony tf grief , when he finds 
tm^kfyiking9 to be onS^ vanity; andeatetiihis 


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18 £CCI.£i9IIAST£S. [PAET I. 

awn fleshy that is, destroys himself by tmavail' 
. iiig sorrow and regret. Such is the worldUng's 

6 portion. It is clear, then, that better [is] an 
handful [with] quietness, evenjhe bare neces- 
saries of life, with the peace and tranquillity 
which religion bestows, than both the hands 
full [with] travail and vexation of spirit, that 
is, than the largest possessions gained with 
trouble, and accompanied with disgust and 

Sect. XIV. — ^The Vanity of Covetousness, 

7 Then again I returned, and I saw a vanity 

8 under the sun, namely j that there is one cer- 
tain individual who lives single and [alone,] 
and [there is] not a second, no heir to succeed 
him; yea, he hath neither child nor brother: 
yet [is there] no end of all his labour to amass 
wealth ; neither is his eye satisfied with riches ; 
neither [saith he,] For whom do I labour and 
bereave my soul of good ? This penuriousness 
[is] also vanity, in regard to man's Chief Good; 
jea, it [is] a sore travail, an irksome and 
painful occupation. 

Sect. XV. — ^Though Society has its 
Advantages, yet Dominion and Em- 
pire ARE BUT Vanity. 

9 Again, two [are] better than one, or^ in other 
words, it is better to live in society than in 


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CHAP. IV.] bogl&siastjb;s> 19 

ioKtwie: because they who Uve im tJmd social 
simte h^Te a good reward for tJmr If^our 
wkich they are destined to undergo in Kfe^ 
reaping imoMy advantageefrom their tmi^n; aSj 

10 for instance^ if tbejr fall, the one will lift up 
bis fellow; but wo to him [that is] alone when 
he £adleth; for [he hath] not another to help 

11: him up. Again, if two lie together, ibexk they 
have heat: but. how can one be warm [akme?] 

12 And if, in any contest, one prevail against him 
that is alone, two shall be aMe to withstand 
him: and, inproofofthe utility of society^ we 
may apply the old adage, that a threefold cord 
is not quickly broken. IBut, without wisdom, 
small are t/ie advantages of society. Even in 

13 regard to the highest rank, better and happier 
[is] a poor and a wise child than an old and 
foolish king, who will no more be admonished : 

14* for fircan the company of apostates he (i. e. the 
fofdish Mng spoken of in ver. 13) comes to 
reign ; although, ev^ bom to empire, be is 
destitute qf the habits, the eosp^riencci tmd the 
prmdence requisite for th^ a^bmnisitratif^ qf 
govemmefU. And in general, as to the con-- 

16*dition qf kings, I. considered the sentiments 

. amd.candwtqfdH the Uwn^ which walk under 

the.sun, and! see dearly, that commnfy they 

favotur the second c^ild, who. is heir te^ the 

thromsj and^'who shall stmd^up inhis stead. 


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M sMeee$§or to the reignmig' numareh. Eveti 
if, through the wiidom of th$ ktrng's gm)ernr 
XQ^nutity [diCTe is] no end of all the people, 
[even] of aU ovar whom he reigns, ao that 
th^ increa$e yearly in prosperity cmd mm^ers: 
neverthdess, they that come after him shall 
not ddight in him ; the rising generation will 
become weary of him, and desire a change. 
Surely this kingly honowr and dignity also [is] 
vanity with respect to man's Chief Good, and 
rather produces vexation of «fmt than real 

Sect. XVI. — Errors in the performance 
OF Divine Worship, which render it 


Chap. V. 1.* Nay^ without drcnmspeetion^ 
the service of the King of kings is rendered 
vain; therefore keep thy foot (u e. he guarded) 
when thou goest to the house of God, ^br the 
purpose of worship; for to be ready to obey 
the Dimne will is a better sacrifice than the 
ofiaring of fools ; for they consider not that 
they do evQ, inaenmch as their offering is not 
accompanied with suitaUe dispositions. In 
2 pdrtic^dar^ be not rash widi thy mouth, when 
engaged in devotion; and let not thme heart 


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be hasty to uttar [any] thing before God, in 
the sahmm a$9emblies JStr pMie war§hipf for 
God [is] in heaven, omnipotent and omniscient, 
and thou a weak, erring mortal upon earth : 

3* therefore let thy words be few. For as a 
dream of the night cometh through the mul- 
titude of business in the day; so, in the worship 
of Gody does a fool's voice through a mul- 

4 titude of words. And liketvisej when thou 
Towest a vow unto Grod, defer not to pay it; 
for [he hath] no pleasure in fools who promise 
without performing ; therefore pay that which 

& thou hast vowed. Better [is it] that thou 
shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest 
vow and not pay, or perform the conditions of 
it. And when thou hast violated any voto^ 

6 suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin, 
ly alleging frivoUms excuses; neither say thou 
b^ore the angel, that is, before the priest, when 
confessing the breach of a vow, that it [was] 
an error, a mere involuntary slip ; wherefore^ 
then, should God be angry at thy voice in 
having uttered a vow which thou hast broken, 
and destroy the work of thine hands; punish 
thee by frustrating thy temporal designs and 
undertakings for so small an offence? Avoid 

7 such rash language, for in the multitude of 
dreams, and in many words in eaitenuation of 
offences, [there are] also [diverse] vani^tiei^ hut 


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fear thou Clod, and imeur not his Hq^hamre 
i^f fmdfittde amdf0oH$k i 

Sect. XVII. — ^The Vanity of murmuring 
AT Injustice ; for, though the oppres- 
sion OF THE Poor and perversion 
of Judgment greatly prevail, they 
do not escape the notice of the 

8 And again, if thoa seest the oppresmon of 
the poor, and violent perv^rtiiig of judgment 
and justice in a province, marvel not at the 
matter ; for [1^ that is] hi^er than the highest 
angel in heaven and most powerjyi potmtate in 
the world r^ardeth ; so that nothing happens 
without his permission; and [there bej higher 
than they ; t. e. there are the High Ones e^the 
Hofy Trinity, above the princes of the earth 
and the hierarchy ofheaiven. Andy as a proof 
of the absolute supremacy of the Tribune Being, 

9 moreover, the profit of the earth, its fruits and 
productions, is ordained by him for the com- 
mon good of all ; nay, even the kmg [himsdf] 
is served by the fields is defendant upon the 
land for the support of life, and, therefore, 
dependent upon, and under the disposal of, the 
Lord of the universe, who wiU finally punish 
the unjust. 


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V Sect. XVUl. — The Vanity of liicfHEs ; 
WITH AN Admonition^ as to the mo- 
derate Enjoyment of them. 

10 With respect to riches, be that loveth silver 
shall nothe satisfied with silver ; nor he that 
loveth abundance of wealth with a continual 
increase of it. This desire of wealth [is] also 
vanity, ificompetent to produce complete satis- 

1 1 /action. Besides, when goods increase, they 

are increased that eat them ; and what good 
[is there] to the owners thereof, saving the 
emj^y pleasure o/* beholding [of them] with 
their eyes? Th^ never cause peace and con- 

12 tent: these often attach to poventy. The sleep 
^ of a labouring man [is] sweet, whether hc^eat 

little or much; but the abundance of the rich 
will not sufi*ar him to sleep,^ either through 

13 satiety, or perpetucd anxiety and care. More- 
over, there is a eore evU^accompanying wealth, 
[whichi] 1 have seen und^ the sun, [namely,] 
riches kept for the ovraers thereof to their 

14 hurt. But those riches which are avaricwusly 
'^hoarded up often perish by evil travail ^ some 

kind or other; and he beg^teth a son, to 
whom he indulged the proud hope of leaving 
abundame iff wealthy and yet [there is] nothing 
in his hand remaiiiing^to bequeath to him. This 

15 often happens; and, at any rate, as he came 


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forth of his motim's womb, naked shall he 
return to go as he came, and shall take 
nothing of his labour, which he may carry 

16 away in his hand. And, I again repeat it, 
this also [is] a sore evil, [that] in all points as 
he came into the world, so shall he %oJrom it; 
and what profit, then, hath he that hath thus 
laboured for the wind? for that which is 
fleeting, and cannot he retained! Nor is this 
the only evil attending the griping acquisition 

IT^of wealth. All his days, also, he liyeth in 
darkness, care, and perplexity: and^ by im- 
ceasing eagerness for gain, his sorrow in- 
creaseth, and his infirmity of body, and his 
wrath and fretful disposition, insomuch that 
life becomes a misery. It is not, however y to he 
supposed that riches are in themselves really 
had J or that all enjoyment of them is criminal.. 

18* Behold a good attending them which I have 
seen, and which is honourable; namely, fou 
A MAN to eat, and to drink, and to ^oy 
the good of all his labour that he taketh under 
the sun all the days of his life. The moderate 
use of the good things of this world is allowed^ 
for this is his portion that God hatili given 
him; this is the use the Almighty hath per-- 
mitted man to make of his possessions. And I 

19 again repeat it, that with respect to every man 
also to whom God hath given riches ^ and 
wealth, and bath given him power to eat 


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hereof, (i. e. to eigay themj and to take hb 
portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this [is] 
the gift of Gk>d : it proceeds from the sovereign 
bounty and goodness of God, that a man can 
derive a lawful and virtuous enjoyment from 
20^ his wealth. Although, as to real enjoyment, 
it be not much, yetj 'having made a proper use 
of richest he will remember the days of his 
life, looking back to the days that are past with 
pleasure^ for he well knows that God exercketh 
him by the joy of his heart, that is, makes trial 
of him by pleasure and prosperity. 

Sect. XIX. — The Vanity op Avarice. 

Chap. VI. 1. Again, there is an evil 
which I have seen under the sun, and it is com- 

2 mon among men; namely^ a man to whom 
God, in his good providence, hath given riches, 
wealth, and honour, so that he wanteth 
nothing for his soul of all that he desireth, 
having every thing ke could wish for his aecom- 
modation and pleasure; yet God giveth him 
not power to eat thereof, (i. e. to enjoy itj but 
a stranger, who is often neither friend nor re- 
lation, eateth it, and enjoy eth it. This covet- 
ousness [is] vanity in regard to man's Chief 
Oood, and it [is] an evil disease, or the cause 

3 of pain and disquietude. If a man of this 
character beget an hundred [children] and live 


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2j9: EGCLEglASTfiS, [PART I. 

mwy years, so tkat the days of his years be 
niaiiy, and yet, at the smne time, his soul be 
not filled ¥dth good, of which he possesses 
abimdcmce^ and also if it he [that] he have no 
burial; 1 say, [that] an untimely birth [is] 

4 in some respects better than he; for he (i. e. the 
abortive) cometh into the world with vanity, to 
nopmposCf and departeth in darkness, without 
anjf noticCf and his name shall be covered 

5 with darkness, and utterly forgotten. More- 
over, he hath not seen the sun, nor known 
[any thing ;] yet this abortive hath more rest 
than the other, i. e. than the miser; for it is 
exempt from the incessant toils and disquietudes 

6 which agitate the avaricious. Yea, though 
he (i. e. the miser) live a thousand years twice 
[told,] yet hath he seen and enyoyed no good ; 
amd what at death dd his riches profit Mm,? 
Do not all, rich as weU as poor^ go to one 

7 place? All the labour of the covetous man 
[is] for his mouth, for his own int&rest and 
gratification^ and yet the appetite for accu- 
mulation is not filled, and, amidst abundance, 

8*w still craving for more. Therrfore, what 
advantage hath the reputed wise man, the 
miser, more than the fool? and- wbat ad- 
vantage hath the poor man, that know^ to 
walk before tilie living ? To this question the 
answer is, that, comparing their respective ad- 
vmtages, the former is tortured unth desire. 


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9 (md tie latter is contented; far better [is] the 
. sight of the eyes, that is, contentment and satis- 
faction with present things^ than the wander- 
ing of the desire, than the indulgence qf wishes 
which can never be gratified. This insaiiable 
thirst of gainy therefore, [is] also vanity in 
regard to man's Chitf Good, and rather 
produces vexation of spirit than substantial 

PART n. 

Sbct. XX. — Since all Human Designs, 
Labours, and Enjoyments are vain, 
IT is natural to inquire, What is 
GOOD FOR Man? What is his Supreme 
Good? The Answer is contained in 

THE remainder OF THE BoOK. 

10 That whi<ih hath been is named akeady, 
the various conditions and circumstances qf life 
havif^ now been examinedj it appears that they 
justly deserve the name qf ** vanities^'' being 
utterly insufficient to form the Chief Good; 
and thus it is known that it [is] man, that 
va$Uty is his character ^ that he is a weak, frail, 
fallible creature^ and that all his secular pur- 
suits are only vanity ; neither may he contend 



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with him that is mightier than he. Though 
every thing here hehw is empty and vain, he 
cannot contend with God, because the creature 
has no right to call in question the justice and 

1 1 wisdom of the Creator*s dispensations. Seeing 
there be many things that increase tanity, cis 
we have seen from an examination of them, 
what [is] man the better? What is he pro- 
fited by them in regard to the Supreme Good, 
which is the object of his constant pursuit ? 

12*3V«/y not in the least; and therefore^ since 
these things are so, it is natural to ask, and the 
inquiry is important, w'ho knoweth what [is] 
the Chief Good for man in [this] life> all the 
days of his vain life which he spendeth as a 
shadow ? for who can tell a man what shall be 
after him under the sun? Who can say what 
will be the event of mian's undertakings ? 

Sect. XXI. — ^The Praise op Character 
AND Reputation. 

Chap. VII. 1. In answer to the inquiry, 
" What is good for man in this life?'' I 
observe, in the first piace, that s, [good] name, 
or fair reputMion^ [is] better than precious 
^ointment ; and the day of death than tiie day 
of one's hirih, if we deserte this virtuous 


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Sect. XXII. — Affliction improves the 


OF THE Wise. 

% Again, I observe m rtference to. True Wis- 
dom, that [it is] better, to go to tha hpuse of 

' mouroing thaa to go to the house oi fea^tpig ; 
for that visitation, of the cfflictfid [is] ^)hai 
admonishes vs of the end of all men; and 
the living will lay [it] to his heart, qnd he d^ly 

3 i^ected hy it. Moreover, sorrow is better 
than excessive and mmeaning laughter; ffir by 
the sadness of the countenancet wising/ram 
inward gri^^ the heart kf made better. JEfence 

A Uis that the hea^ (i. e. the mnd) of the wise 
[i&] in the hons6 of moummg; they qften 
foeqvMt scenes of wo, and m^itate upon them 
when absent; but the heart of fools [i^} \n the 
house of mirth; they arei wholly devQted to 
merriment and pleasme. Again, in refefrence 

5 to True l^isdom, [it is] better to h^ar the 
rebuke of the wise, however painfid, than for 
a Qpuan to hear the song and noisy revflry of 
fook, since by the one our follies are corrected, 
but by the other they are mcouraged and con- 

6 firmed. For as the crackling blaze of thorns 

under a pot is of littte use, and is soon over. 


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80 [is] the hud laught^ of the fool, a mere 
empty, useless, transient burst. This foolish 
merriment also [is] yaiiity, nothing better than 
a bubble or passing vapour. The advantages 
of affliction are likewise seen in the virtuous 
7*tc;Ao are persecuted; for surely oppression gives 
lustre to a wise man; and a gift of fortune's 
goods destroyeth the heart by corrupting it^ 

8 Better also [is] the end of a thing by which a 
man is persecuted and oppressed than might be 
supposed from the b^inning thereof, [and] the 
reason is, thai the patient in spirit, who be- 
comes so through sufferings [is] better than the 
proud in spirit. If oppression^ therefor^ have 

9 such beneficial effects upon a wise man, be not 
hasty in thy spirit to be angry when thou art 
smarting under the rod of tyraamy; for anger 
resteth in the bosom of fools, who give way 
to it when oppressed, while wise men regard 
oppression with disdain^ or contend against it 

10 with undaunted spirit. And say not thou, 
what is [the cause] that the former days were 
better than these ? Do not repine at the pre- 
valence of persecution^ nor look back at former 
times, fancying them betil^ than the present; 
for thou dost not inquire ^sely concerning 
this; such fond inquiries and useless murmurs 
not being the part of a wise and virtuous 


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chap. vii.] bcclesiastes. 31 

Sect. XXIIL — ^The Excellence op Wisdom. 

11* And now to advert to the true and l^ereign 
Good of man^ Wisdom [is] as good as an 
inheritance ; yea, better to them that see the 

12 sun, that is, to all mankind. For Wisdom [is] 
a defence, [and] money [is] a defence; both 
agree in this that they afford protection; but 
the excellency of knowledge [is, that] Wisdom 
giveth life to them that have it. Afut as 

13 this is the ordination of Providence , con- 
sider the work of God in his righteous gg^ 
vemment of the world ; it is impossible to alter 
his dispensations; for who can make [that] 
straight which he hath made crooked ? There- 

14 fore^ in the day of prosperity be joyful, and 
grateful for the blessings of Heaven; but in the 
day of adversity consider thy circumstances 
and the duties incumbent upon thee; for God 
also hath set the one over against the other, 
hath balanced the days of prosperity and ad-- 
versity^ to the end that man should find 
nothing after him, nor have cause to blame 
his wisdom, his justice, or his goodness. 

Sect. XXIV. — An Objection, with the 

15 Notwithstanding the excellency of Wisdom, 
the worldling obfects, '^ All these [things] hare 


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'^ I seen in the days of my vanity, namely, thai 
'' there is a just [man] that perisheth in his 
^^ righteousness, and there is a wicked [man] 
'^ that prolongeth [his life] in his wickedness 
'' with perfect impunity. Now, tf such, be the 
10*<< case^ he not exceedingly righteous; neither 
*^ be exceedingly wise; strive not after great 
. '' attainments in wisdom and virtue; /or why 
'' shouldest thou waste thyself away in the 
''pursuit of that which does not profit?'' 

The Answer. 

17* JVoy, rcUher be not exceedingly wiqked, 
neither be thou foolish;^ why shouldest 
thou die before thy time, prematurely ^public 

IB* justice or the Divine vengeance?^ Also, [it is] 
good that thou shouldest take hold of and 
observe this precept in verse 17, " Se not ex- 
'' ceedingly wicked^ neither be thou foolish;'' yea, 
also from this truth withdraw not thi^ie hand, 
but keep it steadily in vieWy that he that feareth 
God shall come forth of them all ; shall escape 
aU the evils to which the ungodly are eopposed. 

19 Wisdom likewise strengtheneth the wise, 
guards and protects them, more than ten mighty 

20*[men] which are in the city; although there is 
not a perfectly wise and just man upon the 
earth, tihat doeth good, and sinneth not. 

21 Also, since men are so imperfect , take no heed 


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unto all words that are spoken ; lest, JtkfWigh 
theroikmess^levUy, andscandalprevailimg'm can-' 
wrsaUon^ tiiou hear thy servant cunse (revile) 
(hee» and so thou give way to uf^usti/bxbk 
92 anger; for ofteotiines, also, thine own heart 
kno weth that thou thyself likewise hast cursed 
(reviled) others; and the consciousness of 
having sometimes spoken unadvisedly with thy 
Kps should make thee patiently endwrey and 
readily pardon^ the same error in servants and 

23 persons of mean condition. All this respecting 
the value of Wisdom have I proved by wis- 
dom, and diUgentty investigated; and then 1 
said, I wiU be wise, / determined to acquire 
Wisdom; but it [was] far from me, so that I 
could not perfectly attain it; and no wonder ^ 

24 for that which is far oflF, and exceeding deep 

and profound in itself ^ who can find it out 

25 to perfection? Nevertheless y I applied mine 
heart to know/ and to search, and to seek out 
Wisdom, and the reason [of things,] and to 
know the wickedness of folly, or irreUgiony 
even of foolishness [and] madness, of those- 
pleasures and occupations in which the wild 
extravagance and giddy madmess of men place 
their hopes of happiness; and the result of this 
searchy with respect to one particulary is, 4hat 

26 I And more bitter and more pait^ than 4leath 
is the^woman^whose heart [is] snare^and liets, 

^ inveigling souls to ruin with alltheeert md 


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etifming of fowlers to catch birds, [e^id] her 
hands [as] bands, embracing and holding fast 
those whom she has allured into her snares; 
whoso pleaseth God shall, through Divine 
grace, escape from her, and be preserved; bat 
the sinner shall be suffered to be taken by her, 

VJ'^and brought to destruction. Behold, this truth 
concerning the wiles of harlots have I found 
in mjf search of Wisdom^ saith the Preacher, 
BY COMPARING One thing with another to 

28*form a judgment. What yet further my ^oul 
seeketh, but nevertheless I find not, is a man 
or woman thoroughly wise and virtuous; yet I 
confess, one man, comparatively such, among 
a thousand have I found, but such a woman 

S9 among all these hare I not found. Lo, tn- 

stead of perfect cliaracters^ this only have I 

found, that God hath made man upright at 

his first creation; but they have fallen from, 

their state of innocence^ and hare sought out 

many inyentions and wicked devices. . But 

still, notwithstanding the frailty and imper^- 

vin.fection of human nature, who [isjas Ae wise 

1 [man?] and who, like him^ knoweth the 

interpretation of a thing? A man's wisdom 

maketh his face to shine, and renders it 

agreeable^ and the boldness of his face, his 

stem^ forbidding looks f shall be chsmged, so as 

to become serene and amiable* And, as the 

S dictate of Wisdom^ I [counsel thee] to keep 


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the king's (Jehovah's) commandment, and 
[that] in r^ard of the oath of Grod, hy which 
he confiifned the promises made unto Abraham. 
And when performing any religious service to 

3 God J be not hasty to go out of his sight; do 
not perform it in a hurried manmr^ as if it were 
a disagreeable task ; and^ stand not in an evil 
thing when thou art sensible of thy error ; for 
he/«. e. God) doeth whatsoever pleaseth him, 
and will certainly punish obstinate persistence 

4 in evil. Where the word of a king [is,] like 
Jehovah^ [there is] power to take vengeance on 
those who despise it^ and who may say unto 
him, in the exercise of his sovereignty. What 

& doest thou ? Whoso keepeth the command- 
ment of God shall feel, or experience^ no evil 
thing; and a wise man's heart discemeth 
both the time, or proper season^ and judgment, 
or the proper manner of performing every duly 

6*to the Almighty. Because to every purpose 
of man^ whether civil or religious^ there is a 
proper time and judgm^it, or a proper manner 
of carrying it into effect j though the misery 
of man is great upon him, there being mxmy 
things to oppose and distress him^ and though 

7* he knoweth not that which shall be; for who 
can tell him when it shall be? that is^ there is 
a proper time for man*s purposes, though he 
knows not the result, 


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Sect. XXV. — ^The Evil op Wickedness 


8 [There is] no man that hath power over the 
spirit, 0r vital spark, to retain the spirit wUhin 
its eaf'thfy frame; neither [hath he] power in 
the day of death to prevent its departure; 
and [tha*e is] no discharge in [that] war with 
detak; neither shall wickedness deliver those 
that are given to % far aU must encounter 
deaths and be vanquished by iP. Mven wieked 
'gaoemxjTS, with M their power y miust stdmit to 

9 the Mtoke, for aH this (dso which follows have 
I se^n, (and, as before observed, I have ap- 
plied my heart unto every work that is done 
under the sun,) that [there is] a time, a certain 
season, wherein one man ruleth over another 
to hi$ own hurt, emd to the hurt of him who 

10 is ruled. And so^ notwithstanding their rank 
(xnd powet, I saw the wicked rtders buried, 
even those wiio had come and gone fi-om the 
place of Ae holy, who had proceeded to and 
from the place of judicature with great pomp^ 
and they were soon fol-gotten in the city where 
they had so done; so transitory is earthly 
greatness! This power and magnifkence of 
earthly nders [is] also vanity, nothing better 
than a passing vapour. Vice, indeed^ in all 


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ranks J will receive merited pimishn^ent; yet, 

11 because sentence agidnst an evil work is m^ 
executed speedily^ therefore the heait pf the 
sons of men is fiiUy set in them to 4o evil, 
vainly trusting that they may centime to sin 

12 with impunity; nevertheless^ though a sinner 
do evil an hundred tinges, and his [days] be 
prolonged without experiencing the threatened 
punishment; yet surely I know, that it shall 
be well with them that fear God, which fear 

13*before him. But, in the endy it shall not be 
well w^th the wicked, neither shall he, with 
impunity^ prolong [his] days, whicb »hall 
9E 93 a shadow, because be fear^ Qp| bfsfore 

Sect. XXVI. — An Objection, with the 

14* But to this belitf of the vltim^e reward of 
wisdom and pmdslmimt qffoUyy tjifi worldling 
4^ectSj thai " there is a vanity which j^ ^o^^® 
" (i. e. takes plMe) ijpon the ^^th, namely^ that 
" thieriB be just [man] unto wl^W it happenetb 
•* 9^C€0rding to the work of the wicked, heing 
'' persecuted and dq^e^sed; ti/ca^ again^ the^e be 
^* wicked [mm] to whm^ ijt h#ppene|:h ^coiuj- 
^^ mg^o the w(H^ of the righ(teau§, cf^^i^ifmfng 
'' to Jl^urisk m pr^perity. | «9^, tbs^ this 
'' distmctieny tbeny ketmem wisdcm m^ Jolly 


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** also [is] yanityy a mere delusive suggestion of 
15*'' the fancy, Thien 1 commend mirth with 
** the justest reason^ because a man hath no 
'* better thing under the sun than to eat, and 
" to drinks and to be meiiy; for that shall 
** abide with him oC and that only can he gain 
** btff his labour all the days of his life, which 
** God giyeth him under the sun." 

The Answer. 

16 ' There are^ it is true, apparent exceptions to 
retributive justice J but they ought not to perplex 
or disquiet us, for when I applied mine heart 
to know wisdom, and to see the business that 
is done upon the earth; (for also [there is 
that] neither day nor night seeth sleep with 

17 his eyes in pursuit of fancied happiness;) then 
I also carried my inquiries farther, and beheld 
(considered) all the work of God, and I clearly 
saw, that a man cannot find out the work of 
God that is done under the sun: the plan of 
Divine Providence is inscrutable, because, 
though a man labour to seek [it] out, yet he shall 
not find [it;] yea, further^ though a wise [man] 
think to know [it,] yet shall he not be able to 

IX. find [it.] For all this unsearchableness of God*s 

Improvidence I considered in my heart, even till 

1 was^enabled to declare all this, namelyj that 

ibe righteous, and the wise^ and their works. 


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[are] in the hand of God ; entirely m his power, 
and always under his care. Love, ako, and 
hatred are in his hand, and at his free 
disposal; but msm knoweth nothing of the 
future; yrom which we ought to conclude^ tJuU^ 
as God is infinitely wise and goody love will 
Jiwdly he shown to the virtuous, and hatred to 
the vicious y whatever inequalities may at present 

Sect. XXVII. — An Objection, with the 

2* But the worldling still objects^ '' All are 
^^ alike, at least in this, that there is one event 
/' (i. e. death) to the righteous and to the 
" wicked ; to the good and the bad; to the 
** clean, and to the unclean; to hiui that sacri- 
*^ ficeth, and to him that sacrificeth not; as 
" [is] the good, so [is] the sinner; [and] he 
'* that sweareth rashly^ as £he] that feareth 
** an oath, being scrupulous both in taking and 

3 ** observing one. This [is] an evil, then, 
** among all [things] that are done (take place) 
" under the sun, that [there is] one event unto 
" all; yea also, in addition to this, the heart 
** of the sons of men is full of evil, and sorrotv, 
" B.nd msidnesB (maddening anguish) is in their 
** heart, while they live, and after that [they 

4*" go] to ihe dead. But still to him that is 


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'' joined to all the limg tha^ is hope, the 
'^ sweetner qf emstence; for a liviog ck>g is 
better than a dead lion. For the living 
know that they shall die, and ther^are 
*' eagerljf grasp at the present enjoytmnts of 
^' life; but the dead know not any thing, beifig 
'^ ma state of insensibility, neith^ have they 
^' any more a reward, however pious th^ may 
*' have been; for the memory of them is for- 

6 " gotten. Also, their love, and their hatred, 
" and their envy is now perished, cHl their 
*^ passions, affections, and powers being an- 
** nihilated; neither have they any more a 
'^ portion for evar in any [thing] that is done 
*^ undw the sun. Jf such be the condition of 

7 " man, take this advice; Go thy way, eat thy 
'^ bread witli joy, and drink thy wine with a 
•* merry heart; catch at aU the fruitions of 
" sense; for God now accepteth thy works, 
'^ it being manifest that God, as he has sub- 
'Ejected all men alike to death, wiU not punish 

8 ^' thy sensual indulgences^ Let thy garments 
^' be always white, as becomes one who 4dways 
'^ lives in joy wnd festivity; and let tiiy head 

9 ^^ lack no ointment, or sweet perfume. Live joy- 
" fully, er, m other words, enjoy the pleasures of 
" lifcs with the wife whom thow loireet all the 
" days of the life of thy vanity, which be hath 
'' given thee under the sun, (all the days of 
'* thy vanity ;) for that joyous Hvmg [#s] thy 


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CHAP. IX.] ECCLr£8IAST£8. 41 

'' partkni, tkat t>> is th$ only fruit tkou canst 
'' reap in [thisj life, and in thy labour which 
10 '' thou takest uMler the sun. Then^re, wkat- 
^' soever tiiy hand findeth to do, in Ae way 
^' 1^ pleowure^ do [it] with thy might, issdiUge 
'' m it witAaut restraisU; for [there »] no 
** woric, nor device> nor knowledge, nor wis- 
" dom in the grave, ^' Hades, whither thou 
*' goest I^is life being tby aJU, tmt, drink, 
•* and be merry.'' 

Th£ Answer. 

ri 7b answer this ahjeetian, I returned to my 
iwjiuiriesy and saw under the sun mumf ap- 
patent inetfwMties in the distributian of tern- 
p^ral rewards; as, for instance, that tbe race 
[is] not to the swift, who do not abt?iB^s win the 
prize; nor the battle (trictory) aiways to the 
strong, neither yet bread, or subsistencCj always 
to the wise, nor yet ricbes always to men of 
understanding, nor yet favour always to men 
of skm ; but time and chance, the same ap- 
panent accidents cmd casuaUtieSy hi^peneth 
to tiiem all. And they likewise htg^pen when 

12 hast expectedy tor man also knoweth not his 
time, thist is, cannot feiresee the time uhms any 
evetU shati brfcM him; hat just as tiie fishes 
that are taken in sm evil net, a met d^rmtiae 
P6 them, mA as the birds [that Me] caught in 


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the snare, are captured withaut fareseeiiig it; 
so [are] the sons of men snared m an evil 
time, when it falleth suddenly upon them; 
that iSf tJiey are entangkd in calamities at a 
time thfiy never dreamt of. Suty nottaithstund- 

13 ing these things^ this Wisdom, so much, vilified 
by the sensual^ have I seen also (contemplated) 
under the sun, and it |]seemed] great unto me. 
To give one instance of the value of Wisdom^ 

14 [there was] a little city, and a few men within 
it; and there came a great king against it, and 
besieged it, and built great bulwarks against 

15 it. Now there was found in it a poor wise 
man, and he, by his wisdom, d^ivered the 
city ; yet^ such tvas the ingratitude of the, in^ 
habitants, that no man remembered that same 
poor man, to make him a suitable recompense. 

16 Then said I, Wisdom [is] better than^strength : 
nevertheless, the poor man's wisdom. [is] often 
despised by reason of his poverty, and his 
words are not heard with the attention tfiey 

17 deserve. But still the words of vnse [men,] 
uttered with calmness, [are] heard and^attended 
to in quiet and peaceable companies, more than 
the cry of him that is a fool, ann^Tuleth among 

18 fools. Jn shorty Wisdom [is] better, both for 
individuals and states, than wes^ns of war; 
but one sinner destroyeth much good, both 

X. as to himself and others. In the same man- 
1 mer as dead flies cause the ointment of the 


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apothecary to s^ad forth a stinking sayour ; 
[so doth] a little folly him that is in reputation 
for wisdom [smd] honour. So pernicious is 
the folly of sin^ and so necessary is drcum- 

2 spection. A wise man's heart, howe^er^ [is] 
at his right hand, never off* its guard; tmt a 
fool's heart at his left, always unprepared and 

3 ill-directed. Yea also, when he that is. a fool 
watketh by the way, even in the most simple 
actions^ his wisdom faileth [him,} and he saith 
to ev^y one [that] hie is a fool. Instances of 
tkis are common, both among subjects and 

4 governors. - With respect to the former , if the 
^ spirit, or anger, of the ruler rise up agamst 

thee, leave not thy place, and rebel as fools do, 
but continue to practise the duties of thy station; 
5^for yielding pacifieth great offences. There 
is also an evil [which] I have seen under the 
sun, and it arises because of an error [which] 

6 proceedeth from the ruler ; namely, that folly 
is set in great dignity, that is, fools are ad-- 
vanced to places of honour and authority, and 
the rich and noble sit in low place, buried in 
obscurity. Through the same error of rulers 

7 I have seen men of low condition, even s^rvants,^ 
upon horses, and raised to IwnoWi and- men of 
family and worth, even princes, walking as 
servsmts upon the earth, depressed and de- 
graded. Suchnmaise conduct, however, com- 
monly brings its own punishment, according to 


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8 tk€ properbs, he that diggeth a pit shall M 
into it ; and wjboso breaketh an hedge a ser- 

8 p^it shall bite him. Whoso r^noveth stones 
shall be hurt th^ewith ; [and] he that cleaveth 
wood shall be aidangered thereby. Wisdm, 
indeed, is as needful to all men as cwmw 
lO^prudence to Ike artisan; /or if the iron of his 
tools be blunt, and he do not whet the ec^e, 
as common sense directs^ then must he put to 
more strength, and yet, with all this labour, 
his work will not be performed with neatness 
and despatch; but Wisdom is excdleid to 
cduse success in all our undertakings. It is 
particularly necessary to direct us in the use of 

11 speech; for surely the serpent will bite with- 
out michantmait is used; and a babbler is no 
better, since he stings and poisons with his 

12 words. The words of a wise man's mouth 
[are] gracious, useful aand pleasing to those toho 
heat them: but the lips of a fodi will swallow 

18 up himself, and often injure others. The be- 
ginning of the words of his mouth [is] foolish- 
mess; and the end of his tialk [is] mischievous 

14 madness. A fool also is full of words^ yetcr^ 
we no wiser; notwithstandmg his nmeh ^tA- 
ingy a man cannot tell what shall be here- 
mfier; and what shall be after him (th^^ ^> 
ij^t^r Use m^n mentioned just before) who can 
tellMm? Certainly ndt the fool, ufhatevir ke 

1£ mH^ pretend to the contrary. The labour of 


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CHAF. X.] £C€L£SIA8TES« 46 

the foolish, to whatever it is directed^ wearieth 
every oiie of them, because, ^ ignorant is he 
of the jAainest matters, that lie knoweth not 
even how to go to the city without deviating 
IG Jrom the right path. Wo to thee, O land, 
when thy king [is] a child, in knowledge and 
understanding, and thy princes are so luxurious 

17 that they eat in the morning! Blessed [art] 
thou, O land, when thy king [is] the son 
of nobles, as noble in mind as in rcmk^ and 
thy princes eat in due season, temperately at 
the stated timesy for strength^ and not for 
drunkenness ! 

Sect. XXVIII. — ^The Banefulness of Sloth. 

18 By much slothfulness the building de- 
cayeth, for want of necessci^ry repairs; and 
through idleness of the hands the house 
droppeth through unth rotfi. 

Sect. XXIX. — ^The Power of Wealth. 

19 ^ While other seevlar things are of Umited 
use, and only serve a particular purpose, as^ 

for instance, a feast is made for laughter, or 
occasional gratification, an4 wine maketh 
merry, while its eoshUiration lasts; but money 
BASwereth all [things^] and extends its empire 


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Sect. XXX- — An Exhortation against 


20 Curse (revile) not the king, no, not in thy 
thought; and curse (revile) not the rich in 
thy bed-chamber; for informers^ swift as a 
bird of the air, shall carry the voice, and, 
with a velocity like that which hath wings, 
shall tell the matter. 

Sect. XXXI. — Exhortation to Charity 
AND Benevolence. 

Chap. XI. J. With respect to Charity, 
iJiat essential branch of Tme Wisdomj cast 
thy bread upon the waters, that is, com- 
snunicate to the necessities of others^ without 
expecting an immediate return; for thou shalt 
find it after m^ny days. Though thy liberality 
may seem, for the present, to be thrown away, 

2 thou shalt, in the end, be recompensed. Give 
a portion to seven, and also to eight; be 
liberal and enlarged in thy charities; for thou 
knowest not what evU shall be to thee and 

3 others upon the earth. Like as if the clouds 
be fiill of rain, they empty [themselves] 
upon the earth, and increase the fertility 
thereqf; so when treasures are hoarded up 
they are useless, but when diffused, in acts of 


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charity^ they increase the happiness of mankind. 
And alsoy like as if the tree fall toward the 
south, or toward the north, in the place where 
the tree falleth^ there it shall be, an unless 
cumhrance to the ground^ no longer supplying 
fruit to the hungry ^ and shade to the weary; so 
he who does not in life benefit hisfellow-creatures 
has lived in vain^ for when he dies he can be of 
-4 no service to them. Again^ like as he that 
observeth the wind shall not sow; and he 
that regardeth the clouds shall not reap ; so 
lie thatlooketh only for fit objects and seasons 
of charity will never be actively benevolent. 
^ As thou knowest not what [is] the way of the 
spirit coming into the body, [nor] how the 
bones o/* a child [do grow] in the womb of 
her that is with child ; even so thou knowest 
not tine ways and works of God who maketh 
all; which should induce thee to embrace the 
present opportunity of doing goody without 
being solicitous about the future; knowing that 
God will order all things for the best. There- 

6 forCy like the diligent husbandman, in the 
morning sow thy seed, and in the evening 
withhold not thine hand, Jmt use all methods 
of spreading thy bounties; for thou knowest 
not whether shall prosper, either this or that 
act of beneficence^ or whether they both [shall 

7 be] alike good. Truly the light of life, and 
prosperity [is] sweety and a pleasant [thing it is] 


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48 SCCLESMSTfifl. [part II. 

for the eyes to behold the sun^ and to Uve in 

8 the $mnshine of delight and dkundance. But 
neverthdesSf if a man live many years, [and] 
rejoice in them all, having the fullest enjoy- 
ment of a long life; yet let him remember the 
days of darkness and q^iction^ for they shall 
be many, even with the most prosperous. All 
that Cometh from worldly pleasures^ therefore, 
[is] vanity, with respect to securing substantial 

9 happiness. Go, then, and rejoice, O young 
man, in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer 
thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in 
the ways and sensfial inclinations of thine 
heart, and in the sight of thine eyes, enjoying 
whatever thou desirest: but know thou, that 
for all these [things,] all these criminal in-- 
dulgencesj God will bring thee into judgment. 

10*Tlierefore, remove obduracy from thy heart, 
and put away evil from thy flesh, that is, 
mortify thy carnal desires: for child and youth, 
with all their pleasures, [are] vanity, and a$ 
transient m a bubble or vapour. 

Sect. XXXII. — An Exhortation to the 
EARLY Cultivation of Religious Habits. 

Chap. XII. 1.* Remember now thy 
Creator in the days of thy youth, before the 
evil days of pain and infirmity come, and tiie 
ye^yps draw ni^, when, probaiffy, Aon wilt 


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V^Mjf I have no pleasure in them; before the 
wui| and thelighti and the mooui and the 
stars are darkened, thcU i>i before becoming' 
iiuensilUe to pkature and proiperity, and the 
clouds return after the rain, or, in other words, 
before there i$ a constant succession of pains 

3 and griefs; in the day when the hands and 
arms^ which may be justly called the ke^ers 
of the house, shall tremble, and the knees and 
UgSj which may be justly called the stroi^^ 
men, shall bow themselves, and the grinders 
cease and be idle, because they are few, and 
those that look out of the windows, or, in 
plain terms^ the eyes^ be darkened; and the 

4 lipsj tvhich may be compared to the doors of a 
housCy shall be shut in the streets, shall press 
close together by reason of the loss <fthe teeth^ 
when the sound of the grinding, or mastication 
qffood, is low; and he (i.e. the old man) 
«hall rise up at the voice of the bu'd, in the 
early morning; and all the daught^s of music^ 
ail the organs employed in the production and 
^oyment qf music^ shall be brought low, and 

Ji^rendalsd powerless to afford amusem/mt. Also, 
[when] they (i. e. the ijged) shall be i^Gjraid 
of that which is high, and fears [shall be] in 
th^ way, smd Ae^dmond tr^e shall flourish, 
thatiSf the head shall bec&me hoary ^ and the old 
mam, who maybe edn^pared to a ^rasghiqiper, 
«haU be a burden Yo hiitUelf and salisfitc^oa 


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shall be abolished ; because man goeth to 
the gravej his long home, and the mourners 
6*go about the streets : before the silver cord, 
or spinal marrow, be loosed, deprived of 
feeling and motion, and the golden bowl be 
broken, that isj before the head, with its organs^ 
ceases to perform its functions, and the pitcher, 
or heart, be shattered at the fountain, and the 
wheels, or lungs, the organs of respiraiion, 

7 broken at the cistern. Then shall the dust 
return to the earth as it was, and the spirit 
shall return unto God who gave it. 

Sect. XXXIII. — ^The Conclusion. 

8 The result of the whole disquisition is 
briefly as follows: With respect to the Chief 
Good of man, the things of this world are 
vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher ; all [is] 
vanity, being incapable of rendering him happy ^ 
and of securing his highest interest. This tva$ 
demonstrated in the first part of this discourse, 
and it deserves serious attention, because it is 
the conclusion of one who was endued tvith 

9 wisdom from above. And moreover, because 
the Preacher^ who came to this conclusion, was 
wise, he still taught the people knowledge, 
both by speech and writing; yea he gave good 
heed, and sought out, [and] set in order many 

10*proverbs. The Preacher, in these endeavours 


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to instruct his subjects, sought to find out 
acceptable words, and to write down properly 
the words of truth. Such sayings form the 
ll^mind to virtuCy/or the words of the wise, men 
inspired of Godj [are] as stimulating and 
quickening to the mind as goads are to sluggish 
oxen, and, like nails, are deeply infixed in the 
heart that receives them: the collectors, who 
arranged the words of the inspired tvriters in 
the sabered canon, have published them as pro- 
ceeding from the inspiration of one Shepherd, 

12 namely y God. And further, by these, my son, 
be admonished : of making many books, on 
the subjects of this discourse, [there is] no end : 
and too much stu(ly, of human compositions, 
[is] a weariness of the flesh, and impairs the 

13 Let us hear, also, the conclusion of the 
whole matter contained in the second part of 
this discourse; and if as has been demonstrated. 
Wisdom is the only substantial good, then fear 
God, and keep his commandments ; for this 
[is] the whole [duty] of man, and will con- 

14 stitute his Supreme Good. For God shall 
bring every work into judgment, with every 
secret things whether [it be] good, or whether 
[it be] evil. 



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Verse L king in Jerusalem] — The authorized version h 
** king of Jerusalem ;" but, as Dr. Bernard Hodgson observes, 
** it is as improper to call Solomon, king of Jerusalem, as it would 
be to call the king of Great Britain, king of London, Jerusalem 
being only the metropolis of Israel, where Solomon resided." — 
(New Translation of Ecclesiastes, note in loc.) Though this re- 
mark is correct, I cannot agree with Boothroyd in approving the 
same writer's rendering " who reigned at Jerusalem," taking l^bn 
for the Part. Ben. The original literally signifies '* king in, or at 

2. vanity of vanities] — A well-known Hebrew superlative, 
i^ e. the greatest vanity. Some commentators understand it as 
an exclamation, " O, utter emptiness and vanity of all earthly 
things ! " but the Preacher can scarcely be supposed to com- 
mence his disquisition in a manner so abrupt. The verse is to be 
considered as the proposition which the first part of the discourse 
is intended to illustrate ; and, as it forms the basis of hi§ argu- 
ment, he not only states it once, in short and emphatic languag^^ 


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54 NOTES. [chap. I. 

bat doublet and repeats it, in order to impress it upon the mind 
with greater force and energy.--See PreL Diss. § iT. p. 68, and 
Critical Note (*.) 

3. what profit, Sui.] — Since we are placed in , the world by a 
kind Proyidence, there is surely a profit in diligently exerting 
ourselTes in the various occupations of life. Labour was enjoined 
upon man after the fall, (Gen. iii. 17,) and Solomon himself 
obsenres, that '' in all labour there is profit/' (Prov. xiy. 23;) 
consequently^ since it is both necessary and a duty, it must, in 
some sense, be profitable. The observation, therefore, must be 
limited to the unprofitableness of all the worldly labour of man 
with respect to his Chief Good. It must be understood as assert- 
ing, not that the labours of man in the world are, in evewy respect, 
unprofitable, but only in this one respect, that they cannot form 
his Supreme €k)od. In this yiew they are unprofitable, because 
all the adyantage they bring extends not beyond the graye, and 
because they have no tendency to advance a man in True Wisdom, 
which is the only substantial good. Propositions, though ex- 
pressed m general terms, are often to be understood with certain 
rartridions.-— See PreL Diss. § y. p. 78. 

— mnder the tun] — An expression often occurring in the Eccle- 
siastes, and denoting in this life, m this world. Some, refining 
iqpon it^ without reason, consider it as denoting the state and con- 
dition of man on earth, opposed to his future and celestial state. — 
(Michaelis, Not. Uber. in loc.) There is a paranomasia in the 

^ The n in h^n is emphatical, denoting the uniyersality of the 
propoBition. It is applied in the same manner in other places of 
this book, (ch. iL 11, 11, iii. 19, xii. 8.) ^in means any thing 
light and empty, ** a thing quite insufficient and worthless, that 
aiKm vanishes away, like vapour or a bubble,'^ as Taylor observes 
in his Concordance: and it cannot be better rendered than l^the 
word " taaity." 


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CHAP. I.] NOTES. 65 

orighialy pm^^ryed in the ancient yersioni, though not expreised 
in our own. 

4. one generation, Sic] — The proposition contained in the pre- 
ceding verse is illustrated, from this to the eleventh verse, by the 
following reasoning : With respect to his Chief Gt>od, what profit 
hath a man in all his labour ? (verse 3.) None ; for what real good 
can be derived from the labours of so frail a being? While the 
course and constitution of nature abide the same, man, from the 
transitoriness of human life, cannot long enjoy the fruit of his 
anxious cares, (verse 4 — 7.) His toils, also, produce weariness 
and disgust; (verse 8;) they have never conferred h^piness on 
man, and no one need expect they ever can, since there is no new 
thing by which it can be produced, (verses 9, 10,) and they are 
seldom worthy to be held in remembrance by posterity, (ver. 11.) 

5. and hasteth]^The Hebrew denotes to pant, put meta- 
phorically for hattening, the figure being taken from the panting 
of those who hasten along. Compare Psalm xix. 5, 6. The 
admirers of Hutchinsonianism may consult Parkhurst on ^Htt^, 
and Desvoeuz, p. 298. 

6. I%e wind goeth, &c.] —The LXX, Vulgate, Syriac, Arabic, 
and several moderns join the first part of this verse with the 
Ibnner, and explain it of the sun, which the Hebrew, by an 
alteration of the pointing, will certainly bear; but the wind, nnn, , 
seems rather to be the subject of the whole verse. 

7. AU the rivers, &c.] — Some have appealed to this verse in 
proof of a philosophical hypothesis, which accounts for the origin 
of rivers and fountains by absorption from the sea, through means 
of the subterraneous veins and cavities of the earth; but the 
whole of thb passage seems only intended to express, in a popular 
manner, the stated revolutions of the visible creation.— See 
Def lingii OhBervatione$ Sacrm, par. iii. Obs. 15, and Calmet, 
Commentaire Litteral, in loc. 


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66 NOTES. [chap. I. 

8. all tkmgi are wearwnne] — ^Thiff observation, as appears 
from the context, must be limited to man's worldly labours and 
pursuits, all of which are fatiguing, without producing any real 
satis&ction and content Man can hardly describe how little 
satisfactory are all the things of this worid ; ** the eye is not 
satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing;" something 
is ever wanting to render our enjoyments full and complete. — See 
Critical Note (♦.) 

9. the thing that hath been, &c.] — ^This verse might, with equal 
propriety, be rendered interrogatively, with the LXX, Vulgate, 
Dadie, &c. '' What is that which hath been ? The same that 
shall be. What is that which hath been done ? The same that 
shall be done." As the last clause, " there is nothing new unckr 
the sun," in its most general acceptation, is evidently false, it 
must necessarily be restricted to the common occurrences of life 
and the revolutions of human afiairs, which are, at all times, much 
the same, there being nearly the same round of disappointments 
and advancements, of business and indolence, of war and peace', 
of pleasure and vexation. Or, it may be limited to the principles 
upon which the natural and moral world are constituted, and to 
the laws by which they are governed. Though many things fre- 
quently occur which, in one point of view, may be called new ; 
yet they have been produced by the same causes, and regulated 
by the same laws, which have existed from the first origin of the 
world. Or rather, the observation means no more than that there 
are no new sources of human enjoyment, every plan devised 

* " Omnes res defatigarent," Bauer. The verb jra» in Pih. 
and Hiph. means to create disgust; hence wearisame, causing 
fatigue and distaste, Desvoeux ; (p. 544;) but this learned critic, 
adopting a different interpretation of omnn, renders the clause 
*' all these considerations are tiresome;" and, before him, G-ousset 
explained it by " omnes sermones labore constant" — Cofmrnen- 
iarii Ling. Heb. ify. A. 


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CHAP. I.] NOTES. 57 

for the attainment of felicity being equally ineffectual^ with all 
fonper things, to secure the happmess of man. 

10. it hath been already of old time, &c.] — See Critical 
Note (♦.) 

1 1. there w no remembrance, &cJ] — ^This must be taken with 
some limitation, as implying no more than this, that in like man- 
ner as the memory or record of former things is imperfect, so 
existing transactions shall be imperfectly recorded, and little re- 
garded by p6sterity. 

12. /, the Preacher, &c.] — It does not appear to be the 
Preacher's design, in this section, to prove the vanity of human 
wisdom in general^ (that is the subject of a subsecpNot section, 
ch. ii. 12 — 17;) but to demonstrate the vanity of that knowledge 
in particular which results from laborious inquiries into the ways 
and works, the occupations and pursuits of man. Of this know- 
ledge political science forms a considerable, though not the only 
part; it includes curious researches into every thing that relates 
to man ; and, by an express reference to his own experience, he 
concludes that such philosophical speculations cannot confer 
lasting happiness. 

13. / gave my heart to «ecA]— The Hebrews attributed the in- 
tellectual operations to the heart; (Michaelb, Supplem, ad Lex, 

* The ancient versions render u» jB^o wn ntt^K C3»o^jr^ nm 
na3 Kin ** yet it hath been before in the ages that have preceded 
us;" but, as it is very unusual for verbs singular to concord with 
nominatives plural, unless they are meant distributively, I i/^ould 
render the clause in the following manner : ^^ It hath been in the 
ages before; certainly it hath been before us." This, though 
coinciding with £• T. in sense, is a more literal version.— See 
Noldius, ConcardantiiB ParticuL Heb. in *)13. % 


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58 NOTES. [chap. I. 

He6. No. 1257;) and hence, where intelligence is implied, iff 
might be better rendered by *' mind** than " heart.** 

— Meareh omi by wisdom] ^Thst is, sagaciously and diligently. 

— this iore travail] — See Critical Note (♦.) 

— to be exercised therewith] — See Critical Note (f.) 

14. aU is vanity and vexation of spirit] — ^This clause is takes, 
by many expositors, in its most extensive acceptation, and it is, 

* The word |Mjr, from nJjr, which sometimes means to act upon 
in a bad sense, to afflict^ is only found in the £cclesiastes, where 
it occurs eiglH times, and uniformly means occupatio, negoHum 
molestum, quod affligit. — (Castell, Lex. Hept,) To this effect it 
is rendered in all the ancient versions.-^See Le Clerc in loe, asd 
the Lex, at the end of the Hexapla, ed. Montfaucon. 

t The expression u niijr^ is variously rendered : " to give 
evidence of himself,*' Desvoeux ; '< for their humiliation therein," 
Hodgson; '^that they may weary themselves therein,'* Booth- 
royd; " Deus concedit homines sese ipsos fatigare,** Dathe; 
** qua eos premeret," Le Clerc; '* ut occuparentur in ea,^ 
Vulgate; so Syriac; rov wepurwaff^ai ey avTia, LXX. It w 
obvious that T\i9 cannot here mean to afflict, to oppress, though 
it sometimes has this meaning ; for pain and affliction do not seem 
to be the end and object of any of God's gifts and dispensations. 
Parkhurst, and Tympius in Nold, Partic. Heb, fy» note n, are, 
probably, right in thinking that the radical meaning of nJJ^ is '^ 
ofit, or operate upon some person or thing. Thus, the painful 
labour of inquiring concerning every work under heaven God hw 
imposed upon mankind, to act or operate upon them by it ; that 
is to say, it is one of the means of exercising &em, and of makmg 
trial of Iheir patience, humility, and resignation. The Engli^ 
translation, therefore, exhibits the sense correctly. ' '^'' 


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CHAP. I.] NOTES. 5d 

fio doHbi, in thii^ yiew suffidenily apposite tj> the Preacher's 
argimieiit; but the eontext seenui to limit it to the stady of the 
tt;etions and works of man. Havtag stated^ just before, the pain- 
fal iabom^ he had endured in mquiring diiigentity into ** all thii^gs 
that are done under heat^eti/' Solomon now pronounces these 
inquiries to be '< yantty and Tetatiotf of spirit.'' AH such sMfies, 
pursuitSy and specidations are ineffectual to confer happiness; 
they create iMch th)uble and afflictiott, and cannot, ther^iwe, be 
ihe principal good of man.— See Critical Note (*.) 

♦ the clause rm mini ^in ^an is variously rendered : '* M 
this is a vapour and company for the vrind," Desvoeujt; " aHis 
vanity, and a feeding on the wind/' Boothroyd;' ** omnia vana 
sunt et voluptetem offerunt cito praetereuntem," Dathe ; ** nutri- 
menta vei^osa, studia inania," Doederletn. My reasons for 
atdopling Ihe standard version are, first. The phrase mn ni^*)' only 
6ccurs in the foHowing texts : Ec(jesiastes i. 14, ii. ll, 17, 26, 
it. 4, 6, a. 9, in each of which the authorized version suits the 
eontctxt Secondly, Whether ftijr-j be derived froAi yn coiir 
fiinger^f oi more analogically, as it should seem, from njf'^pastere, 
it wHl equaHy denote the affliction which breaks down the spirits, 
^e anxiety which preys upon the mind, and wears it away by 
4c9itii and Vexation. Yan der Palm, though he adopts the reti- 
detmg ** vana esse onttiia et vento inaniora^" confesses *' potest 
tamen secundum Grammaticam suam formam duci a ny*i, quoad 
depascendi nodo non incommode transfertur ad vexatumet et 
diierHdan^ animi."^DiM de Lib, Etcks. p. 69.) Thirdly, It is 
impported by the ancient versions : '* vankas et afflictio spiritns," 
Vulgate; Mnn nn*in, the breaking or wounding of Ihe spirit, 
Targum; |*jyLQi^t |.^)(A the perturbation of the spirit, 
Syriac; xpoatpevtc wtvfiaTocg LXX. By this expression the 
€^ek translators probably meant to denote cBstraction of the 
ramd, sudi as is occaaioncid when, several objects being pre- 
seiited, h deliberates, doubts, and hesitates which to choose. 


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60 NOT£S. [C.HAP. I, 

15. ITkat which ii craohed, &c.] — ^The tense b, the knowledge 
of " the things that are done under heaven," (verse 13,) cannot 
constitute the Chief Good, since " that which b crooked cannot 
be made straight" by it; it can neither prevent the misfortunes 
and injuries which prevail in the worid, nor rectify what is amiss, 
and it is, moreover, very defective and inefficadous. Those who 
take the preceding verse in its most general sense, explain this, 
as connected with it, in the following mann^ : Mame^f, all the 
works of man are ** vanity and vexation of spirit," (verse 14,) 
and it is impossible at should be otherwise, since it b the ordina- 
tion of Providence, which cannot be altered, any more than that 
which is crooked can be made straight, or that which is wanting 
or deficient in the labours of man can be sujf^lied. — See Critical 

IIipoai(9eoic yop e^ri, hto wpOKeifieviav^ ro ecXeyeffdou kcu ^ufteiaOai tovto 
fTpQ Tw tnpov, as Suidas observes. Aquila has 1^0/417 aytfiovf and 
Symmachus ^trmiaiQ avtfwv, both <^ which, were, . doubtless, 
intended to signify vain, unprofitable, wearisome labour, a mere 
/^ feeding upon wind," (ch..v. 16; Hosea xii. 1,) which disap- 
points desire and expectation* — ^These observations are, in a 
great measure applicable to \vif^, found in ch. i. 17, iL 22, iv. 16, 
.as it is obviously derived firom the same root as the former ex- 
^r^ssion.. The context, etymology, versions, and the traditionary 
interpretation conspice in supporting the received rendering 
^* vexation of spirit" 

^ .The authorized version, as explained in .the note, admits a 
^ood sense; I am, nevertheless, inclined to render it rath^ 
differently : 

That which is perverse is with cBfficidty corrected ; 
And that whidi is defective is with difficulty supplied. 
In support of this version it may be alleged, tiiat ^3V vf? he- 
quentfy means a great difficdty 'only, not an absolute inqpossi- 
Mity ; as, Gen. xix. 19, 22, xxxi.^,.xliv.,22.— nijm, Pact. Pyh. 


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CHAP. I.] NOTES. 61 

16. in Jerusalem] — See Critical Note (♦,) 

17. . to know wisdom, and to know madness and yb%]— Meto- 
nymically the cause for the effect; that is» the works and labours 
of human wisdom, madness, and folly. — See Critical Note (f.) 

from nv, may be rendered ** perverse" as well as ** crooked.** — 
(Simonis, Lex, Heb. in toc.) The verb n)D means not only to 
reckon^ number^ or compute, but also to assign a share or portion; 
and in this sense it may be taken here, that is, the assigning or 
appomting the full share or portion of that which is defective, 
which is a matter of great difficulty. In this view the meaning 
is, that the perverseness of men is, after aU our study, corrected 
with such difficulty, and their manifold defects are so hard to be 
wpplied, that the knowledge above described necessarily creates < 
^^ vexation of spirit." This exposition is submitted with defi^rence 
to the reader's judgment. The ancient, yersions are very dis*, 

"^ Some translate taWn* Vjr " who ruled over Jerusalem,*' re- 
ferring to the kings, priests, and Judges who had preceded 
Solomon; but as hjf frequently signifies in, (Noldius in voc, 14,) 
and only two had preceded the royal sage in the character of 
king, of whom one did not reign at Jerusalem, I prefer adhering 
to the received version, " in Jenisalem.**^ — See Goussett, Comm^ 
Ling. Heh. nht, S. 2. 

t The primary meaning oiV?n undoubtedly is to shine; heifi<??^ , 
secondly, in Pih. and Hiph., to shine upon, to ittustrjoSe, to 
praise; thirdly, inHith,, to praise oneself, to vaunt, ta boast; 
fourthly, as self-praise, pride, and boasting produce ii|so|enc.e 
and extravagance, the root came to signify to be mad^ tumultuous, 
and extravagant. Now, according to the primary meaning of 
the root, the derivative Ts^Shr^, here made use of by the Prea^cher^ 
may be rendered " splendid matters;*' thus— 


63 NOTES* [chap. U 

go paraphrased as to yield a connstent sense in die most general 
acceptation; but, in my opinion^ the pleasures arising bom 
literary porauits are among the most delightful and the most per- 
manent which Providence hath benignantly granted for the c<Ma- 
fort and solace of human life. Neither can the wisdom here 
described be the Wisdom eulogised in the third chapter of 
Proverbs, all ** whose ways are ways of pleasantness,'^ and to 
which so many commendations are given in the writings ox 
Solomon. It must, therefore, refer to the knowledge mentioned 
In the foregoing verse, a knowledge of the works as well of what 
is reputed human wisdom, as of human folly and extravagance, 
of which the more is known, the more reason appears to lament 
their emptiness, their imperfection, and their baseness. 

I have also applied my mind to the knowledge of wisdom. 

Even the knowledge of matters splendid and profound. 

So Dathe's version, ** rerum splendidarum,'' and Desvoeux's,^ 

** whatever is shining ;" but I prefer the received translation, ** to 

know madness,** because, first. This sense suits the context. In 

Ihe preceding verse the Preacher asserted his attainments m 

wisdom ; he here repeats the same, with this addition, that he 

applied his mind also to know the labours and works produced 

by the madness and folly of mankind. Secondly, ni^Vin ipost 

probably signifies madneu and extravagance in other places of 

this book, ch. ii. 12, vii. 25, ix. 3, x. 13, and not ^lendidoi 

ikinitig: though I am aware Dathe and Desvoeux do sometimes 

so translate it Thirdly, If any thing can be collected from the 

discordancy of the ancient versions, it is in favour of the authorized 

translation ; certainly they do not oppose it. Michaelis (Suf^lem. 

No. 659) deduces the sense of madness from the cognate root 

in Arabic, which is applied to the appearing of the new mo<m, 

and from which come words denoting luna nova and iiuHiMi 

mensis. — (See Golius, Lex. Arab, in 3^)- In this he is follpwed 

by Simonis in his Lex. Heb., by Schulz, in Coeoeii Lex, Beb., and 

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1. / said in my heart, A:c.]-^Matlfaew Henry rery tmlj, 
though rather quaintly, observes, ** Solomon here, in pursuit of * 
the Summum Bonum, the felicity of man, adjourns out of his 
study, his library, his elaboratory, hb council-chamber, where 
he had in vain sought for it, into the park and the playhouse, his 
garden and his summer-house; exchangeth the company of 
philosophers and grave senators for that of the wits and gallaots, 
and ^e beaux-esprits of his court, to try if he could find true 
satisfaction and happiness among them : here he takes a great 
step downward, from the noble pleasures of intellect to the brutal 
ones of sense ; yet, if he resolve to make a thorough trial, he must 
knock at this door, because here a great part of mankind imagine 
they have found that which he was in quest of.** — ^The expression 
** I said in my heart," denotes I said within myself, I purposed 
in my mind. — See Critical Note (*.) 

by Storr, Observat ad Analog, et Syntast, Heb. p. 40; but surely 
nodiing can be more fancifuL — See Dindorf, Lex* Heb. in ^Vn. 

The present Hebrew text is n^h^m prudence; but as many M8S. 
have niV:>0, and as this latter occurs in six other places of the 
Ecdesiastes, ch. ii. 3, 12, 13, vii. 26, x. 1, 13, it may be con- 
sidered as the true reading. Or perhaps they are one and the 
same word, as Sin and Samech are one and the same letter. — 
See Buxtorf, Aniicritica, p. 772, and Capellus, Crit Sac. p. 880, 
ed. Charfen. 

* Some derive n3D)K from *]Dj to pour out, namely, I wiR 
pour out myself in pleasure, I will indulge in it, I will abound in 
delights; but it seems to come from noi to prove, vnth the affix 
and a paragogic n, as it is understood by the Greek and Syriae 
translators. — nM*ii is the infinitive, put either for the imperative, 
** therefore enjoy pleasure," as E. T., or for the friture, " and 
^u.dialft enjoy pleasure." 


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64 NOTES. [chap- ir: 

2. / said of laughter, Sec.] — Mirth is the usual attendant of 
innocence^ and, when seasonably indulged, is a sweet refresh- 
ment of the spirits, and alleviates the toib and cares of life. By 

' *' laughter/' therefore, must be understood loud, excessive, wan- 
ton laughter, which generally produces a kind of mental delirium, 
bi removed from True Wisdom, and commonly ends in sadness 
and disappointment. Man's Chief Good cannot arise from 
revelry and merriment, which are too empty and short-lived to 
make us either wbe or happy! By '* laughter," according to 
some, is meant a state of continued prosperity and enjoyment, as 
it signifies Job viii. 21, Gen. xxi. 6, Psalm cxxvi. 2. 

— it it mad\ — Excessive laughter is said to be mad, either 
because it creates a species of momentary distraction, or because 
it is too unmeaning and ridiculous to be indulged in by any but 

3. I sought, &c.] — Of this difficult verse, in rendering which 
ancient and modem translators differ exceedingly, I have retained 
die received version; but perhaps it may be better rendered in 
the following manner: " I proposed in my mind to gratify my 
i^>petite with wine, (yet guiding my mind with wisdom,) and to 
lay hold on folly, till I could find where that good for the sons of 
men was, which they should do under heaven all the days of their 
life."— See Critical Note (*.) 

* Dr. Roberts, in his Corrections of various Passages in the 
English Translation, p. 164, proposes to read p*D for pa, and 
ni^stta for niVsDl, and to render it. '* I determined in my heart 
to vrithdraw myself from wine, and to lead my heart to vrisdom^ 
and to lay hold on knowledge, that I might see," &c. ; but this 
emendation is unwarranted, and, if it were not, this rendering 
would be inaccurate. — ^The clause no3na JnJ o^ is rendered 
by van der Palm, " delassato per sapientiae studium animo," for 


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— with wtne] — Under this term are comprehended all the 
delicacies used in banquetings and feastings ; (Prov. ix. 2; Cant. 
viiL 2;) just as, by the same synecdoche, ** bread** signifies in 
Scripture all the necessaries of life. 

-7 lay hold on folly]— By " folly" is meant either that enjoy- 
ment of wine which is in reality folly, or generally whatever 
pleasures the folly of man pursues, and which are, by the event, 
found to be nothing but folly. 

5. trees ofall kind of fruiti] — Namely, all kinds of fruit-trees. 

6. pooh of tracer] —In Eastern gardens were artificial ponds, 
or receptacles of water, which was conveyed from thence by 
little channels to every part, in order to irrigate the soil. — Nehem. 
ii. 14; Gen. iu 10, idii., 10; Isaiah i. 30, where see Bishop 
Lowth, and Burder's Orienial Customs, No. 664. 

— the wood that bringeth forth trees] — ^A more correct 
rendering is given by Bishop Lowth, on Isaiah i. 30, namely 
<* the grove flourishing with trees.'' Hodgson's version is, " the 
flourishing [dantations." The Hebrew literally is, *' sylva ger- 
minans arboribus,'' as Cocceius translates it. 

7. servants bom in my honue] — ^Among the Hebrews a kind 
of marriage was permitted between slaves, which the Romans 
termed contubemia, and the- children produced from these cos- 
nexions were also slaves. " Such slaves by birth wei:e said to 
be bom in the house, (Qen. xiv. 14, xvii. 93,) and termed tofM of 
the house, (Gen. xv. 3,) or sons of the handmaid, (Exod. xxiii. 12 ; 
Psalm Ixxxvi. 16, cxvL 16.) Abraham had three hundred and 

which sense of jin^ he appeals to the Arabic and Syriac; but 
there is no Helnrew authority for it, and, as Bauer observes in his 
St^lia in loc., it is plainly contrary to verse 9. 


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66 NOtES. [CttAP. II. 

eighteen of tliete.^'-Mictia^lM, Comimmiariei on tMe Laws of 
Moiei, art 123. 

8. tkepecMHar ireagwrt of kingi] — Ether abunddat treasmefl, 
such as actaally belong to kings and whole provinces; or, the 
most precious articles which kings and the provinces could 
supply. Some suppose, but I think erroneously, that there is a 
reference to the presents made to Solomon by princes and pro- 
▼inces. — (1 Kings iv. 21, ix. 11, x. 10; 2 Chron. it. 9, lO. See 
Bishop Reynolds in loc) How applicable the whole of this 
description is to Sol9mbn must be so apparent, from his history in 
1 Kings and 2 Chronicles, that I consider it perfectly unnecessary 
to offer any thing in itlustratioii of it — See Critical Note (^) 

^ Critics hare formed a variety of conjectures rei^ectiag the 
meaning of nntt^l nittf , fbund only in this plade. Durell, in his 
Critical Remarki in loc., supposes some corruption of the text, 
of which, however, there appears no sufficient evidence; we 
tttttst, therefore, endeavour to discover some probable hiter- 
pretation> for probability is all that can be obtldhed. The Je^rish 
Doctors advocate very different opinions re^pfecting the meaning 
of the phrase, as miaybe seen in the Critici Sacri, Pfeiffer, 
(Dvb. Vex. in loc.,) Buxtorf, (Lex. Talm. Chald. i2a6.p. 1796,) 
Gill's Bikkf Sec. Most of these ojnnions have found supporters 
-in* difi^rent Christian expositors ; it may, therefore, be propet to 
e^eotand review the sentimehts of 8<»ne of the most ciminent 
Boohart* (HUroic, pan ii. lib. 6^ cap. 13,) Pfeiffer^ (Dnb. Vex. 
^ak loe.,) Le Cldrc, arid others, deriving the words from the Airabic 
^^0^ tecinitt or from the name of a Phoenician poet, exi^und 
th^m of Various kinds of symphony And sorig. Vatsiblus^ Des- 
voeux, and several others derive them from iinr vastamt, and 
take them to refer to women who are the subject of warlike 
devastation, that b, captive women ; but, after attentively pe- 
'^rusihg l^esvoeux's laboured defence of tiiis iiiterpretatidn, it 
still appears to me altbgether erroneous; fdr, as Bishop l^akic 


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9. Iwa$ great, and increoied] — If the first verb in t^e origmal 
18 put adverbialiy, as is often the case with verbs so coiyoined^ 
(Robertson, p. 327; Schroeder, Reg. 63,) they maybe rendered 
'* I increased in magnificence;" fuy€dei wrepCaXov, Symmachns. 

obseryes, ** there were no wars in Solomon's time, till the latter 
end of his reign, and then he was rather worsted than victorious;" 
how, then, could he speak of acquiring females captured in war ? 
Some derive the words from it^ a breast or pap, and, as the 
breasts constitute a principal part of the beauty of women, they 
think that nntt^) mm denote damsels of pleasure^ pelHces; but 
this is surely far-fetched and chimericaL Analogous to this, how- 
ever, is the interpretation of Michaelis, Doederlein, and Bauer, 
who, hfm a fanciful Arabic etymology, suppose that the words 
mean *' a numerous haram." Lud. De Dieu, taking the sense, firomi 
the Syriac ) Lt JL via sive prapositum, explains it '' delicias vise el 
viarum, siye propositi et propositorum, t. e. omnis generis," and 
this exposition is adopted by Dathe, both in his edition of Giassii 
PhiL Sac. p. 52, and in the note to his Latin translation ot 
Ecclesiastes. Calmet's gloss is, ** des champs cuUivez, et mm* 
cnUives; ou des ghamps de toutes sortes; a la lettre, iim duamp, 
et des champs. Tout le monde convient de la signification de 
sadeh, et A<e sadoth en ce sens. Et pourquoi, dans Le deaom- 
brement des plaisirs qu'il s'etoit procurez, n'auroit-41 pas dit 
qu'il avoit acquis une infinite de terres et des champs?" But 
thb does not appear very probable. Jerom says, ** non enim 
homines, viros videlicet et feminas; sed vasculorum species 
nominavit, kvXoccov et icuXticta vocans, quod Hebraic^ dioitur 
Sadda et Saddoth." Bopthroyd, after Piscator, renders the 
worda by ** the sweetest instruments pf music," thinking that, this 
sense naturally springs from nntt^ to pour forth, and that the 
feminine nou^s may be used to denote those which giye the: 
softest sounds^ and most like the fepiale voice. ^Patkhurst, in hift 
Lexicon, says, ** nitt^ is a Qpun masculine, and ntnw. ft noun 
A A 


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68 NOTES. [chap. II. 

10. mud ihii wm my poriim, Ac] — Most commeiitators con- 
Beet thiflt with the precedmg clame, thus: ** my heart rejoiced in 
all my labour, and this was my portion ;" that is, this rejoicing 
was die good that I enjoyed, was the happiness I derived from 
all my labour. But this is contrary to the scope of the passage, 
which is to show, that all the Preacher's luxuries and worldly 
tcnls were empty and vain: hence the pronoun *' this,'' nt, must 

plural feminine, a cupbearer, vrho pours oui ¥nne at feasts. So 
the LXX, preserving the idea, oivo)(poy xai ocvoxoac, from oivoe, 
wine, and x^f to pour out It appears, from Oen. zl. 9, 11, that 
the kings of Egypt, and, irom Nehem. i. 11, that the kings of 
Persia had one chief male cupbearer, and so likewise might 
Solomon^ with a number of females under him." In this way it 
is tmderstood by Houbigant and others. My own opinion 
coincides so fieir with De Dieu, that the expression was intended 
lo describe delights of all sorts, *^ omnis generis;" for, first, this 
clause ends the Preacher's enumeration of particular luxuries, 
and should, therefore, seem designed to express generally that he 
enjoyed a variety of delights besides those mentioned before. — 
(See Gousset, Camm. Ling. Heb. innr, K.) Secondly, a repetition 
of the same noun in different genders denotes universality, of 
wluch examples may be seen in Glass, PhiL Sac. p. 52, ed. 
Dathe, and in Storr, Obs. ad Anal et Syntax. Heb. p. 189. The 
same constructiofn obtains in Arabic. — (See Scheidius, Ad Cantic 
HUh. p. 135.) It is scarcely necessary to observe, that I take 
mm for a noun masculine; but if it be feminine, the meaning will 
be the same, as a repetition of a word in the same gender equally 
denotes universaUty. — (Glass, p. 14; Schroeder, Chram. J7«5. 
Reg, 5 ; Robertson, Gram. Heb. p. 295.) Lastly, the words 
seem properly derived from mtt^ to iked, to pour out ; hence 
rmtt^i mm whatever most universally pours forth, or diffuses 
pleasure ; and therefore the sense is, ** all the delights of human 
luxury," as expressed in the version. 


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refer to the foUowiog Terge, and Ae sense wUl be as exhibited in 
the Paraphrase. 

11. there wai no profit] — Namely, as Diodati remarks,, there 
was no sound nor permanent good after the transitory pleasure 
derived from sudi labours. 

12. / turned myself to behold wudotn, &c.]— This section, 
including yerses 12>— 17, does not relate to True Wisdom, or 
Religion, but to mere human^or worldly wisdom, as appears from 
the mannerin which it b joined and compared with madness and 
folly. This is still more evident from what is said against it in 
yerses 15 and 10, which show that the royal philosopher b speaking 
of secular wisdom or knowledge, which excels folly, because it 
renders a man's conduct mone drcitmspect and prudent, (ver. 14;) 
but if unaccompanied with Religion, the True Wisdom, it profits 
IHde, inasmuch as it contributes litde to lasting contentment 
The wisdom here spoken of is undoubtedly a valuaMe possession, 
and die Preadier only means to demonstrate its vanity in thb 
respect, that it cannot ward off calamity and death, nor com- 
pletely satbfy the heart of man.— See Diodati. 

— for what can the man do, &c.]— Though the critics and 
translators are greatly divided about this clause, there are three 
interpretations chiefly deserving of notice. First, that of the 
authorized version and DaUie, ^^what can the man do that 
Cometh after the king?" which is, indeed, supposing an ellipsb 
scarcely exampled ; but, included within a parenthesis, yields a 
sense perfectly in connexion with the context, as may be seen in 
liie PiEuraphrase ; and after this manner it b explained by Rey- 
nolds, Holden, Patric, and other commentators* Secondly, that 
of Yatablus and Grothis, ** what mui can follow the king in the 
things which are done V that is, in knowing them ; who can pre- 
tend to equal the king in a knowledge of these matters? An iti- 
terpretation agreeing well with the former clauses, but not with 
the following one. Thirdfy, that of Geier and others, << whab 


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70 NOTES. [chap. II. 

die man that shall come after the king whom they have akeady 
made V which suits verses 18, 19^ but bears no relation to the 
immediate context — See Critical Note (*.) 

14. 7^ wise man*$^eyes are tn kk keadl—TkoA is, he sees Ida 
way before him, is cautious in his undertakinp, and judicious in 
the execution of them. 

16. IT^Muf/tftmyAearl.dsc.]— See Critical Note (f.) 

* Van der Palm declares the text in this verse to be manifestly 
corrupted, but I would say, with Bauer, *' JSgo noUem cultrum 
criticum adhibere, eoque omnibus testibus destitutus resecare quae 
intricata sunt" As the expoMtions, however, mentioned in the 
explanatory note are not quite satisfactory, I may be permitted 
to propose another. Now, may not oiHn be taken in the 
vocative case, and thus rendered and panqphrased: "I harmed 
to contemplate the wisdom, and madness, and folhf of mankind; 
and of these I have a perfect knowledge, ybr what, O man, skall 
come after the king ? Any thing perfectly new ? No : onljr that 
which hath been already ddne, and therefore I am well qualified 
to form a correct judgment respecting them." Several BfSS., 
instead of imtt^i^, have inu^jr in the singular, and so Syiiac an4 
Vulgate; but I see no sufficient reason for departing from the 
received text, " they have done," namely, impersonally, " winch 
hath been done." 

t This verse may be literally rendered, ** Then said I in my 
heart, with respect to myself it ha^^eneth according to the event 
of the fool; to what purpose, therefore, do I excel in wisdom ? 
Then I said in my heart that this also is vanity." u» d:i is the 
nominative absolute; i. e. " quod atdnet ad me." — (Glass, PhiL 
iSbc. p. 67; Robertson, Gram, p. dll; Schroeder, R^. 33; 
Bishop Horsley, Pref. to Hosea, pj. 31.) 1^ little word m is 
U0k without its difficulty. Schmidt renders it ''jam pridem/' 


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la Fw there is notemembranee^ &c.] — See Critical Note (*.) 

17. Therefore I wa» weary of life] — Existence js the greatest 
of extenial blessiiigti bestowed upon mab by bis Maker, aud 
though we oi^t fo resign it willingly at the conimand of God, 
mod esteem it as nothing in comparison with a future and a better 
Hfe, it is deeply criminal to despise so great a Messmg, or to 
become weary of it throu^ momentary, troubles aud afflictions. 
The egressions in this verse must, therefore, be restricted to that 
kind of life which Solomon has been describing, a life spent in 

^' jamcdim," a sense probably without example. Noldius, in 
his Concordant, in voc., considers it redundant; but Tympius, ii| 
his note to Noldius. and Geier take it to mean the hour of death ; 
namely, what will human wisdom then avail ? It may, perhafM, 
s^fuify ideo, therefore, a sense which it undoubtedly sometimes 
has« Few, I suppose, will agree with Doederlein, who says, 
** m videtur nominascere. Sensus; cur equidem tanto fervorc 
I appUcui ad sapientyimJ^ — SckoHa in lee 

"^ As the authorized version gives the sense, it is needless to 
depart from it, but the verse may be more closely rendered: 
** For there is no memorial of the wise man nor of the fool for 
ever;" (t. e. there is no perpetual memorial ; see Bauer, Booth- 
royd, &c, ;) ** seeing that now the days will come when all shall 
be forgotten ; and the wise man dies in like manner as the fooL" 
The meaning, it is .dear, must be limited ; that is, there is no 
adequate or perfect remembrance of men after death. The par- 
ticle c=u^ in tlus verse certainly means like as, in like manner of, 
4Bqne oc. — (Noldius, in voc. 8.) nismi may undoubtedly mean, 
" seeing that which now is," as in E. T., or " seeing that now:" 
it is i^ompoonded of n and and *ia3, a particle only found in 
i^cclesiastes, an<| denoting time past or present — See Durell» 
Critical Remarks in be. 


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72 NOTES. [chap. II. 

the panait of pleasure and enjoynent In the third secticNi he 
says he determmed ** to give himself unto wine, and to lay hold 
on folly;" thai is, to indulge in the pleasures of sense^ and to 
seize those thmgs which, however prized by man, are only fc^y ; 
and, after giving an account of his splendid luxury, and '^ the 
vexation of spirit^ it occasioned, he proceeds, in this section, to 
state the vanity of merely human learning; and he concludes with 
observing, that neither his pursuit of earthly pleasure nor of 
earthly wisdom could preserve him from being wearied of such 
a life. The Preacher, then, gives utterance to no unholy disgust 
of human exbtence ; it is only an assertion of the taedium which 
invariably attends a life unsanctified by religion, though it be 
spent in the midst of those circumstances of luxury and splendour 
most admired by the worid. — See Critical Note (*.) 

18. Yea, I woi weary of all my labour. Sic] — ^lomon, at 
the conclusion of the preceding section, which treats of secular 
wisdom, having stated that all secular works are unavailing as to 
complete contentment, again adverts to the same topic in this 
section, and adduces another reason for the ennui and weariness 
experienced firom such works, namely, that the fruit of our labour 
must be left to others. This sentiment, like that in the foregoing 
verse, has been considered as a selfish and narrow principle, 
but without reason. The wise monarch, in effect, only says. 

* The verb v^im, used here and in the following verse, means 
not only to hate, in the strict sense of the word, but somietimes to 
have little regard for, to be indifferent to. Gen. xxix. 30, xxxL 
33, &c. (Taylor's Concordance;) and the verb fuaew, employed by 
the LXX in this place, has occasionally the same meaning. — 
(Schleusner, Lex. in voc») It is, therefore, better to render it here, 
" I was weary of life," than as E. T. " I hated life;" that b, as 
Geier observes, '* minus dilexi, non curavi, nou maguifeci." 
Luther's version is, *' therefore I repented that I lived," &c. 


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** Besides being disgusted with the luxurious life I was leading, 
I was likewise weary of all my labours, (enumerated ch. ii. 4—8,) 
for what does it profit to amass wealth, and to acquire large 
possessions, since they must be left to thankless heirs ?^ He 
therefcn-e expresses no querulous discontent, no base and selfish 
sentiment, no unbecoming murmurs at life and the dispensations 
of Providence ; but merely asserts that he felt a distaste for all 
his splendid works, arising firom the consideration that he must 
leave them to those who might make an improper use of them. 
Whether Solomon glanced at his son Rehobbam, as has been 
supposed, cannot now be known. 

20. Tkerefare I went about, &c.] — See Critical Note (♦.) 

21. a great edl] — The meaning is not that leaving our pos- 
sessicms to those who have not laboured in acquiring them is in 
itself an evil, for this, according to the law of nature, must fre- 
quently happen; but that the thought of being obliged thus to 
leave them is affictive andVexatious, and evinces how little is the 

* Parkhurst renders this verse, " I went about that my heart 
might renounce (or cause my heart to renounce) all the labour, 
&c. ;*' but VH* means to despair, to be destitute of hope in all 
other places where it occurs, namely. Job vi. 26; Isaiah Ivii. 10; 
Jer. ii. 25, xviii. 12 ; 1 Sam. xxvii. 1, and it has the same meaning 
in Arabic, (Golius et Willmet, Lex. Arab, in ^M^b ) and in Rab- 
binical writings, (Buxtorf, Lex. Chald. Talm. et Rah. p. 926.) 
The words avoraifia%ai of the LXX, and *^ renunciavit^ of the 
Vulgate, may seem to favour Parkhursf s interpretation ; but these 
translators may have meant to express the same idea as the £. T., 
to abandon as desperate, to renounce as hopeless. In other places 
the ancient versions give the sense of despairing, though not 
uniformly. For these reasons I give the preference to the re- 
ceived translation. 


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74 JVOTES. [chap. II. 

good to be derived from oar anxious toil in their acquisition. — 
See Critical Note (*.) 

fU> The man enjoyi not kappinest] — literally, ** There is no 
good in the man ifHio eats and drinks,'' &c.; that is, he has no 
perfect eiyojrment — See Critical Note (f.) 

* The primary meaning of ntt^3 is, I think, to prosper, to tue- 
eeedf This verb only occurs Esther viii. 5, Eccles. x. 10, xL 6, 
in the first of which passages Estlier says to the king, according 
to the standard version, ** if I have found favour in his sight, and 
the thing seem rights mm no^D, before the king," &c. : better 
thus, *' and the thing, that is, my intercession for the Jews, suc- 
ceed h^uve the king, then let it he written to reverse the letters,^ 
^c, Ecclesiastes x. 10 is rendered in £. T. ** wisdoni is print- 
able to direct," but the context proves that the verb signifies to 
succeed; *' if the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then 
must he put to more strength; but wisdom is excellent to cause 
success," *i»t^3n. The remaining passage, ch. xi. 8, cannot be 
any way so well rendered as in E. T., ** for thou knowest not 
whelher shaH prosper." The ancient versions do not afford much 
light, but the little they supply is in favour of the above ex- 
planation; (see the Lex, in Montfaucon's Bexapla ;) and in Syriac 
^^kp means prosperatus est, fortunwoit. Having ascertained 
Ifae m^anipg of ns^d, it will not be difficult to discover that of the 
derivate, pntt^d only occurring ch. ii. 21, V. ip, iv. 4, the last of 
which proves that it depotes success, or prosperity, — See Note to 
ch. iy, 4, and Pind€(rf,.£ex. Heb. in voc. 

t Some suppose an ellipsis of oh *3, nisi, as E. T., Le Cl^c, 
van der Palm, Syriac, Walther, (ElMps. Heb. p. 142, ed. Schnlz,) 
and some in Poli Symp., na^lely, '* there is nothing better for a 
mm than that h,e should eat," &c.; or, '' there is nothing good for 
a man except to eat,"&c.; but this produces a sense contrary to 


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— This alio]^^The pronoon '^this" refers to the foregoing 
proposition, namely, with respect to this also, that the man enjoys 
not happiness who indulges himself in eating, drinking, and Inxury, 
I perceive it is from the hand of God, it is his app<Mntment. Ac- 
cording to the ordination of Providence, true happiness is not 
to be derived from sensual indulgences. 

26. Far who can, &c] — ^This verse contains a proof, firom 
Solomon's personal experience, of the assertion in the preceding 
one; thus, ** Man cannot obtain real happiness from sensual 
pleasures; it is so ordained by Providence; and my opinion on 
this point is entitled to regard, since I have learnt by experience 
how vain and unsatisfactory they are, for no one has had a 
greater share of these enjoyments than myself." — See Critical 
Note (♦.> 

the scope of the whole discourse, and of an immoral and dan- 
gerous tendency. The same objections apply to the rendering it 
interrogatively, with the Vulgate, Hodgson, and others. There 
is, moreover, no occasion for taking the words either elliptically 
or interrogatively; their plain and.hteral meaning is as expressed 
above, and is sanctioned by Jun. and Tremel., De Dieu, Geier, 
Houbigant, Desvoeux, Boothroyd, Dathe, Gousset in pp*^, 6. 
Though in the version I have given it is ** indulges himself with 
the fruit," &c., the original is Uterally, <' bis soul;" but die 
Hebrew often expressed the reciprocal pronoun by mti anima. — 
Robertson, Crram. Heb. p. 317; Gocceii Lex. Heb. ed. Sculz, m 
voc. 12; Michaelis, Suppkm. No. 1622; but see Dr. Lawrence., 
Dissertation on the Logos, p. 7, et seq, 

* Though some assign a different meaning to irin, (Desvoeux, 
Bauer, SchoHa in loc., Dindorf, Lex. Heb* in voc.) noiiimg, in 
my opinion, can be plainer than that it retains, in this plaoe,^ it& 
usual meaning, to hasten; namely, who can partake of these 
enjoyments with such fa&ste and promf^tude as I htve done! 
B B 


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76 NOTES. [chap. III. 

mm MBSoal iadulgeice* wkb a leBtiineBtof piety worthy a r^^oii» 
plulosoplier. IVne happioeM cannot be found in tnidi e^joy- 
VMBtSy baeanse tl^y aie criminal, and eootimtment was aeyer 
y«t Ibe pvoduct of Tice. God giires to the pwre m heart alone 
tiiat serenity, and cheerftdneia, and contdoua latiifactioQ, which 
are die chief ingredients in human felicity, 

-T- Cjhot ke mmy gwe to him that ii good hefare Ood\ — Eidier 
that €k>d may give, or the possessor may bequeath to some moie 
woi^y occupant Eidier way the sense is, that wealth, amaase^ 
with cai« and toil, not uncommonly, through Diyine ProTidence, 
Mis into the hands of some one more worthy to possess it— ^(Le 
CSerc In he,) This is to be understood in rdference to the Jewkh 
Theocracy; we must not now expect the same immediatt r^ii- 
butive justice. — See ProY. xiii. 22, xxviii. 8, and my note there. ^ 


1. To every thing, &c.] — This section contains another proof of 
the position which forms the groundwork of the discourse, that 

** quia me est in fruendo promptior, et in acquirendo diligentior,^ 
Dmsins; ''for who hath more cheer&lly eaten, and deli^^ted 
himself more than I?'' Luther's version. — As om) expresses 
the sense given in the version^ t^n is either redundant^ or d fin 
is a singular idiom, dieting magis ^rttam.--^Noldhis, in voc* eC 
Aniia^. 1270.) Instead of the textual reading • jdd, many MSS., 
together with the LXX, Sjrriac, and Arabic exhibit 1 jDD* If 
this reading be adopted, and it is approved by the author of 
Choei^h^ a Poem, by Dr. Wall, and Dr. Roberts, the affix i 
mu^t cefer to God« mentioned verse 24, and ^e sense will be^ 
'' That ^n^ual delicti cannot confer permanei^ felicity is die 
appointment ^€rod« (verse 24,) for n^ nwacaa eat, c^ hasten to 
faidMlge ni^em wi^Mnvt Im;" thi^t i^ withoiit God's penmsnon. 


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ttmt contefltmetit caiuiot be derired from the sodroes of ttere 
woddly enjoymettt But» thougk ih% Pteadier affiim Hist lumMui 
Hiboim mud pmimtiy of wfaftlerer description^ are iiwiiffiotettt to 
eMWPe penaanent satuAustioiiy he is so ftur from condemniiig them 
as sialul, that he is oareM to impress upon his readers, that^lhese 
is a deteroMaate seasoa for all thiB eoutasels ciQod, and a proper 
time for the execution of all human purposes, a time when they 
may be lawfully and honourably carried into effect, (verse 1—8;) 
yet are they, as he argues, vain and unprofitable; beteillie all 
tfiiogs here below are subject to eonturaal vicissitude, (Terse 0, 10^ 
The beat and most perfect of diem endure only for a time^ and, 
when it is expired, are succeeded by olhe^ equally vain and 
iHMleea. Qod, indeed, hadi made ev«ry thing beaaftiM m ita 
season, though it is obscurely comprehraded by man, (verse 11;) 
and he ailews his rational creatdres to partake of present blessmgs 
in a moderate and virtuous way, (verses 12, 13;) and what is moat 
oensoling, amidst all this emptiness and instabBIfy of tenestrial 
Hfogs, Is, tfiat the counsels of God are wise and immutable, 
(v^rse 14.) 

— everg ptirpOBe} — This expression cannot be restrained to 
^ designs, inclinations, and purposes of man, but miist indude 
the counsels and dengns of Gk>d, as b plain from what feUows 
concerning a tiine to be bom and a time to die, which alone 
belong to the ordination of Providence. The sense, therefore, is, 
that there is a proper season for the exercise of all human demgns 
and incKuations, and a predeterminate and appointed time for all 
the purposes of God to take effect It comes to the same thing 
if the word '* purpose" be taken, by a metonymy, for the dung 
frarposed, that is. the object of desire and indination ; (Simonis, 
Lex. Heb. and Gousset, Camm. Idng. Heb. in r&n;) but Desr 
voeux^arguies against this sense, p. 539. 

% utimeto pUntt, ^c] — Several commentotors undeHtand 
<ttils iMffi^stich teetaphorieally of Ood's raising up or destroying; 
^Uttffias «nd nations.-* Jer. xviii. 6, el seg. 


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78 NOTES- [chap, hi- 

8. A time to kiU] — If this be understood of hummn actioas, 
eoouiioii sense requires us to restrict it to a time of putting to 
death judidally^ in the ordinary course of distributive justice. It 
BMiy howeyer mean, that the deaths of men are not fortuitovs, 
but happen according to God's providence and aiqpointmenty bj 
whom alone the time is determined to heal, that is, to enjoy 
health or to suffer pain. 

6. A time to ca^ away stettei, SecJ] — ^This» I am of opinion^ 
should be taken in a general sense, signifying that there is a 
proper time for gathering stones, and a proper time to cast tliem 
away, for any purpose whatsoever. But some think it refers to 
the rearing of memorials for the purpose of perpetuating the 
memory of remarkable transactions and events, as the pillar set 
up by Jacob, (Gen. xxxL 44, et teq.;) and the twelve stones 
erected by Joshua, (Josh. iv. 1, et teq. ;) and more espedally to 
tibe erectbn of trophies over vanquished enemies ; as. Josh. viii. 29; 
2 Sam. xviiL 17, 18; Zech. ix. 16. Others explain U of the 
proper time to neglect and despise the collection of gems and 
precious stones, and of the proper time to collect them with 
dil%eace : but the Hebrew pK, in the sense of preeunu stone, 
is generally accompanied with some e^lanatory word. — (See 
Simmiis, Lex. in voc. ed. Eichhom.) Another, though still less 
probable, interpretation is giv^i by Harmer, Observations on 
various Passages of Scripture, vol. iv. p. 402, ed. Clarke. 

— a time to embrace] — Compare 1 Cor. vii. 3—6; Joel ii. 16L 

6. A time to get, &c.] — It is best to understand this generally, 
diat is, diere is a time proper for endeavouring to get knowledge, 
wealth, honour, preferment, &c, and a proper time when we 
should be content to lose them. There is even a proper time 
^* to cast away'' our possessions, when we do it in obedience to 
the demands of charity and benevolence, or rather than r^iounce 
ones duty to God and man. But some explain it in reference to 
the event. " Favourable opportunities there are for improving 


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people's fcNrtuneSy and unsuccesffiil times Wben they are the 
greatest sufferers : .seasons when men are provident, and soUdlous 
to secure the goods of fortune for many years, and fiiturt service; 
and when they dissipate vrith the utmost pcofiision of an un- 
thinking extravagance." — Laurence Holden's PiKrofkrom* 

7. A time to rend^ &c.]— Some, after Jerom, apply this to 
the rent or schism which Solomon foresaw was near at hand, 
]both in church and state; (see Ckoeieth, a Poem;) others to the 
rending of garments on any individual or national calamity. — See 
Hewlett's J?i6/^ in loc. 

8. a time to hate] — Hatred and anger, being implanted in the 
human heart by our Creator, may, under proper restrictions, be 
lawfully indulged. And as there are just causes both for love 
and hatred, so there are for war and peace. 

11. He hath alto put oitcvrify]— See Critical Note (*) 

* Some are of opinion, that tah^n must, in this place, signify 
the world, a sense which it has among Rabbinical writers, and 
wfaidi is supported by the Vulgate ; but, probably, unexampled 
in any other passage of the O. T. I say probably, because I 
am aware some critics ascribe this signification to the term in 
Micah V. ii. — (See Oxlee, Christian Doctrine of the Trimittf tmd 
Jneamation, vol. ii. p. 282 and 309.) Besides, the preceding 
^3n riM in tiiis verse denotes the universe, or, at least, all things 
in the worid, as is observed in the NotiB Uberiores of iKfichaelis 
in Uc.; and fru xshm nM OJ, '* he hath also set o^rn,'' must 
certainly denote something else : the very form of the exprsssipn 
shows that ^3n and ca^rn mean two different things. I have, 
therefore, in the main adopted Parkhursf s explanation, as most 
easy and beautiful, in which o^jr is taken for a eeeret, hidden 
Mng, as Psalm xc. 8. Compare Job xi. 6, xxviii. 11; Psahn 
xliv. 22. This appears to me &r preferable to any explanatkm 


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80 NOTES. [chap. III. 

1% no^f^dd 4m€kem] — Sefwnd expomAon, fefeniiig Hie pranoM 
**Ukihem** to OMB, widerBtuid it ^us: There is no goo4 in men, 
or for tem, ctxoepi to enjoy Oo^b blenuigB witk coatontod 
■Mdeintion) and todo w^iX vb good to Iftiemeelres and4>tiiers; n 
Tahiable sease, it is trae, but it seeBW more astnral to refer It to 
the works of God, mentioned in the former verse. 

13. And «te thai every mm, dtc.]— Though the reeei?ed 
iwrsion gives the sense, this verse may be more deaiiy rendered. 

I have seen, some of which I will quote. ** He hath given, or 

flaoad, ui hidden duration m die midst of them," NoU to 

CliboalM, « P9mn: ^ he leto their hearts be toimentod (er 

anmous) hm it idiaU go in ^ woM,'' Ludia*; ^ he inth 

even set that eternity in their hearts, widiont which,'' Keo. Des- 

voeuz; ** he hath set their yoke on their h^art, so that,'' &c. 

Durell; ^' God hadi also set futurity in dieir heasi^ taaamnch 

as," &c. Hales, New Analym, vol. ii. p. 403; *^ I mwed die 

darkness which he spreadeth over men's hearts," Hodgson; 

^* hath put it in dieir hearts to turoey the woiM," Bootinroyd; 

^ animis hominnm impressit sigBlum," van der Pafan^ ^ effiek 

nt homines <pioque tompus futumm pr»cognosoew eupjant," 

Bauer; ** universitatem quoque menti e<Nrum fffoponit,^' 

Doederim; ** quin et mundi hujus pMkritudkiem homines 

mentibiis suis nitneri possunt," Dathe. Le Clerc afeo, and 

some in Poh fijynop. take o^jrn to denote the world, m n mli . 

So does Ih. WeUsy ^vHio explains die clause ** he has ^aet die 

ivotld m dior heart/' to mean, diat ** Ood has g^en nwn al^ifef 

to discern or judge of events in part, and to conclude diat dieie 

'b a like beauty in all events, though never so oppoMte." — I hme 

folciwied Farkhurst m rendering toah^ by *^ in the >midBt of 

dtem;" and as the clause ** from the begmniag^ die .end" nniy 

refer either to man or Gt>dy I have endeavoured to preserve die 

andngi^ty. — ^Forthe meaning of the awal Xtyofuvov, iA '^m^^M, 

see NoMius, Concord, in voe, et Atmo t . 

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*' And aLso with respect to every man who eats, and drinks^ and 
enjoys the goQd of all his labour; this is the gift of Ot>d." 

14. shaU be for ever] — Namely, it is immutable; his purposes 
cannot be changed. 

15. Thai wkUsh haih been, &c.]-^This reflection naturaHy 
qpm§i from the observation in the former verse, diat what God 
doeth is for ever, is immutable. Hence, whatever seemittg 
changes there may be, the course of nature remains unaltered, 
and the succession of events is regulated by fixed and unde- 
viating laws. The royal Preacher, in the present secdon, ex- 
emplifies the truth of this remark in the wickedness prevailing in 
die oouits of justice contrasted witfi the righteous judgment of 
God. If the base passions operate evmi in the seats of justicoi 
what birt vanity can be expected from human pursuits ! 

— the penecuied man] — The Hebrew word, here rendered 
*' the persecuted man,'' is the Part Niph. i^mj* and may admit 
two meanings : first, that tokich is past; that u, God w3l require 
that which is past, will cause it agun to be exhibited, for die 
oemnse of nature remains unaltered. This cohere weM widi the 
preceding part of die verse, and is supported by the Vulgate, 
CSoocttttf , Qmeae, Dadie, Reynolds, Patric, van der Palm, Bauer, 
Boothiofd, ParUiurst, and others in Poh Synop. SecoiUHy, it 
may meaaAmioib tfjMcrjicefl, diatts, perseeuited: and,if eon- 
neeted widi the next verse, wiB yield a good sense, as given in 
the Panq^irase. This explanation appears to me to agree widi 
dw 9co^ joi the context better ftan the other ; and the LXX, 
mkm^ vsereion of Ecdesiastes is extremely literal, and, perhaps, 
onr Jiest guide, understood it dns way; mud widi th^n agree 
the Syriac^ Taifuni, and Symmachus, mth Giotius, SehisMK, 
SimoniSy dec 

1& A$id mmremMT Ismv, &c.] — ^Reference is here made to the 
flaoes where j«isdce and equity shoidd i)e administeind by the 
judges and rulers of die people; '' the place of righteousness^' 


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82 NOTES. [chap. III. 

oorrespoodingy ts Geier and Schmidt obsenre, to '^ the fdace of 
jadgmenf Soch repethioiiB are finequent with die sacred writers, 
and are reiy emphaticaL 

17. Ood wiU judge, &c.] — Though the poor and innocoit are 
for a whOe persecuted and oppressed by lawless power^ ye^ in 
the end, this seeming disorder will be rectified, and God wfll pass 
a rif^iteons sentence opon those who are gmhy of tyrannical 
cruelty. What comfort oaght it to administer to the oppressed, 
to reflect that there is a fixed time, beyond which God w31 not 
suffer innoceacy to be injured, nor tyranny to prevail! — See 
Critical Note (*.) 

18. liaid in, mine heart, &c.]— The Preacher, after r^ecting 
diat God will judge mankind, and determine concerning eveiy 
work, (verse 11,) turns his thoughts to the condition of men, and 

* The word cam, in the latter part of thb verse, has given the 
commentators considerable difficulty^ Most of them take it for 
an adverb, there, ihi; yet they are not agreed as to what it ought 
to be referred. Others translate it by then, tunc. Hodgson, 
Doederiein, Bauer, Boothroyd, van der Palm, and DatJie, read- 
ing i^BLe word with a Sin, take it for a verb, deeemit, dupcmit, as 
in Exod. xv. 15; 2 Sam. xiii. 32, which, in my judgment, is by 
much the most easy and natural interpretation. If tsm is not a 
verb, some verb must be supplied, as rxm^im, which is done, 
that is, God will judge concerning every work which is tlone 
there, namely, in the {dace of ju^^ent ; but it is surely uncikical 
to suppose an ellipsb withoqt necesuty. Besides, if this clause 
had been intended to be construed with the former cfims ike 
proposition hp wQuld, probably, not have been inserted. Ndther 
does it depend upon the preceding clause tfin ^3^ njr o, icat if 
it had, instead of am nmjfr^n ho bJf^, it would have been simfJy 
hah, or bob njn. Upon the whide, it appears every way [tfefer- 
able to take csm for a verb, and to render it, " he will determine 
eoncenkig every work.'' 


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infen that it is so ordeced, m their coaditioii is particularly 
adapted for M» purpose, that God may pro? e them, and that 
they themselves may see how little, with respect to earthly things, 
they differ from the beasts. 

— they thenueh^ are beoits] — ^That is, like beasts ; not in a]l 
respects, but only so far as is declared in the following verse, 
namely, in being subject to death, (Psalm xliz. 12, 20.)— See 
Critical Note (♦.) 

19. Far that which hefalkth, <&c.]-^This is commonly ex- 
phuned of man's being subject to various chances and accidents, 
like beasts; but the clause, ** as one dieth, so dieth the other," 
deariy determines that the author is speaking of death alone, 
which is the '^ one thing*' common to them both. Though the 
sense of the original is exhibited in the English version, it may 
be more literally and more perspicuously expressed as follows : 
** For as to the event of the sons of men, and the event of beasts, 
even one event happens to tiiem both: as the one dies, so dies 
the ot^er; yea, the like breath have they both; and, in thU 
respect^ what preeminence hath man above the beasts?" 

* The author of Choeleih, a Poem, translates thelaUer part of 
this verse as a wish, '< Oh! that God would enlighten them, and 
make them see, that even they themselves are like beasts,".which 
cannot be admitted; for the verb oni^ cannot, I think, be pro- 
perly derived from any other root than lia, to discern, to explore; 
(see ch. ix. 1, and Gousset, Comm. Ling. Heb. H^a, P. 2;) but 
Houbigant, (in loc.) Roberts, (Corrections, &c. p. 166,) and 
Hales, (Nem Analysis, vol. ii. p. 404,) adopt the reading SHna 
after the Syriac; that is, " in which God created Aem." — In the 
construction of the latter part of the verse, csnh is redundant, as 
is often the case with pronouns having V prefixed.— See Robert- 
son, Cham. &b. p. 314; Sehroeder, Gram. Heb. Reg. 37. 
C C 


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84 NOTES. [chap III. 

— ihtg ka»e aU wut 6rea<4]— Naiaely, th^ are alike wkh 
■eapect to breath or life. Tkat *' Iweath," nn, here denolea 1^ 
"or xHUiUlt^^ is perfectly evident, both firom the context and the 
nature of the thing, aince in no other seiiae hare they the same 
m*i, madL But in v^se 21 the same word, ncodk, means the 
spin/, or imii^|»itiictple. 

— KaXh no preemtiieiioe] — This expression must be limited, as 
in the Paraphrase; for in verse 17 Solomon observes, that th^e 
is thb preeminence of man above the beast, that he b amenable 
to the righteous judgment of God, and, of course, is a rational, 
responsible agent; and in verse %\ he remarks the superiority of 
human nature in the different events which await ** the spirit of 
man" and ** the spirit of the beast" Both, however, are eqivilly 
liable to death, and in this respect man has no preeminence. 
This exposition is confirmed by the followmg verse. 

— aU U iMnttfy] — These espressions may undoubtedly be 
takenan an enlarged sense, tu» in several other places of thb book, 
to denote (he emptiness and insufficiency of all earthly things to 
effect permanent felidty: but the context seems here to limit 
them to the circumstance of men and beasts being alike subject 
to mortality. In the next verse '< all" b, in like manner, restricted 
to the corporeal frames of men and beasts. 

20. all go wnto one |i2(ice] — ^As in the next verse the spirit of 
man and of tiie beast are affirmed to go to different places, thb 
must be restricted to their bodies. The animal part of both 
returns to its kindred earth: an evident allusion to Gren. iu. 19. 
Compare Ecclestastes xii. 7. 

21. who bunoeihy d^c] — ^The Pdyglott versions, and some 
modem critics, interpret thb as a question expressive of doubt, 
namely, ** Who knoweth the spirit of man, whether it goeth 
upward; and the spirit of the beast, whether it goeth downward 


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CHAP. III.] . NOTES. 85 

to die earthr Bat thb would be a eontradiction to chap. xii. 17» 
where Sdomon expressly deckres, 4utt the hornan spirit returns 
to Gk>d who gave it; and die drift of the reasoning is, not diat it 
may be doubted whether the spirit of man goeth upwards, and 
die spirit of the beast downwards, but diat, aldiough one event, 
death, awaits both man and beasts, and the animiJ part of each 
returns to dust again, yet ^Ferent events await ** the spirit of 
man'* and ** the spirit of die beast :^ while die former ascends 
into the heavens " wito God who gave it,'' die latter descends to 
the earth, and perishes for ever. The n, dierefore, prefixed to 
rhpn and nniin is not interrogative, but is the prepoe. article. 

— the spirit of man — the spirit €f1heheast'\ — It is plain, that 
in*i, ncacA, must here mean the Utimg principle, that'which wiUs 
emd acts ; Irat which is ^Bfferent in man and'in^beasts, forasmuch 
as that of the former goeth upwards, lives for ever, and diat of the 
latter goeth downwards, perishes for ever. — See Le</lef€, in- he. 
and Oxlee, On the Trtrnty and Incamatten^ vol. L p. 47v 

2S. shmM rejoice in his worhs] — ^Though %l6mon pronounces 
decidedly, that secular labours and enjoyments cannot confer 
lasting happiness, he by no means absolutely condemns them. 
He had before stated, that there were proper times when they 
might be executed with propriety, (sect. 8,) and«he here further 
argues, that we should enter into the occupations <^ life with 
cheerfulness and contentment, since they are imposed upon us by 
Divine Providence, as our '* portion." 

Some commentators consider verses 18 — 22 to be spoken in 
die character of an Epicurean, and the words, at first sight, may 
seem to favour this opinion. But, according to this view, the 
passage has no bearing upon die subject of the first part of the 
book, which is to prove the vanity of all earthly things, and, 
among the rest, the vanity of £(Hcurean enjoyments, as is done ^ 
di. ii. 1 — ^11, and ii. 24 — ^26^ and it would, dierefere, contravene 
the design of the ctiscourse, to state an E(»curean opinion con- 
cerning the value of worldiy gratifications without refuting it^ as 


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86 NOTES. [chap. IV. 

would be die ease, if the BOtioo of llraee eonmeiitatOfB be ad* 
aatted* * TlBroiigboot the ^nX part, Sfdemon never piopoaes aa 
objedioii for die purpose of overthrowing it, as he does in the 
second; bat he proceeds to prove his main position bj reviewii^ 
the various concems of this wodd, without ever ksiag sig^it of 
huobject Theexpre88ioiis,also, inverse 19, "for an is vamty," 
are so clearly in character, and so expressive of the lesson vHtiidi 
this part was designed to incidcate, that it seems unreasonaUe te^ 
consider this passage in any other light than as a statement of the 
wise monarch's real sentiments. The scope of die whole sec^on 
is to point out the vanity, even of life itself, if regarded inde- 
pendendy of religion, insomuch diat man, in respect to life and 
deadi, has no superiority over the brutes; and it is only when we 
oonnect his existence with the rdigious doctrine of a future state, 
when we view him in rdation to aaoth^.lifie, that he appears to 
possess any pre^ninence. When, however, we look beyond the 
grave there is a wide distmction, smce the spirit of die one goeth 
upwards, and the spirit of the other downwards to the eaidk 


1. Sq I returned, and eanndered] — That is, I considered 
again, I took anoth^ view of the subject, die first verb being, as 
usual, used adverbially : or, die meaning may be, I returned horn 
the contemplation of this subject, namely, the subject of the pn^ 
ceding section, and considered, &c.— See Critical Note (♦.) 

* Instead of the received, version, "on die side of their <^ 
pressors," Dr. Durell renders this part of the verse, " they had no 
comforter, nor strength against the hand (or, power) of their op- 
pressors, for they had no comforter :" (see Noldius, Concord, m 
TO :) but it may well be doubted whether this sense of the partide 
TO can be established by any satisfactory example. Some dunk 
D is put for 1 ; while others understand it accoiding to its ^jiyw^n^w 


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2. I praised the demd, <&c.] — If this and the foUowiHg verse be 
coDsidered by themselves, they convey, it must be admitted, a 
seDtiment of murmuring discontent, and of profane complaining 
at the dispensations of Heaven,, which a religious mind would 
shudder to avow; but if they be understood, as they ougfit, in 
reference to the royal Preacher's design, they will be found per- 
fectly accordant lyith the most refined and contented piety. The 
subject of this part of the discourse is the vanity of every thing 
merely human and terrestrial, in proof of which the argument in 
this section is, that vanity is increased imto man by oppression* 
And when the Preacher, in reference to the present life, con- 
lE^dered the mai^y and cruel oppressions of mankiud, the help^ 
lessness of the afflicted, and the power of the persecutors, he 
thought it would be better to die, and still more so not to have 
been bom, than to be subject to the oppressions which are in- 
flicted by tyranny and vice. But if Religion, the True Wisdom, 
l>e taken into consideration, it will present a very diifo'ent view 
of the subjeict, teaehiftg that all the dispensations of God are wise 
and good, and that it is our duty to be conteit with whatever 
'Pcovidence may order. The present section, then, strictly con- 
duces to the author's design; and amounts to this, that, if human 
and worldly things were our Chief Good, non-existence, consi- 
dering ike various oppressions here below, would be preferable to 
life.— See Critical Note (♦.) 

signification, ** a manu, i. e. a parte, h. e. penes opprimentes, 
est rolur," Poli Synop. In all these varieties . the sense of the 
Terse b not materially altered ; for which reascm it is a matter of 
little moment to determine on what side the evidence prepon- 
derates ; and, m truth, thb would be most difficult, since d has 
several meanings applicable to the place before us, aad *t% as is 
well known, is often put pleonastically ajTter prepositions. 

♦ "Who arte yet;** niijr and, by apocope, ^ijt inverse 3, put 
for run *T3r. — See Altingu> Fundam. Puw^. ling. Sand. p. d06. 


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88 ^ NOTES. [chap. IV. 

9, Yem, heiier is ke, dre.]— If we kM>k no fartter dian to fiie 
diings of diif wofM, *^ he which hath not yet been" would be 
preferable either to the dead or^the livbg. ** To see," iu this 
▼ersoi denotes to aufler, or to experience. 

4. Agaim leomtidered, &c.]— Protiperity is often regarded by 
mankmd as the great and supreme good of Ufe; but it exposes a 
man to the envy and jealousy of his neighbours, whence proceed 
many eyils, anxieties, and troubles, by reason of which prosperity 
is rather the source of uneasiness than of contentment Hie 
Hebrew should be rendered ^' every prosperous woik,'' and not, 
as in the standard yersion, '^ every right work,'' because it is 
added, ** that for thb a man is envied of his neighbour;" and 
prosperous works, not those which are right and equitable, are 
the cause of envy.— See Critical Note to ch. ii. 21. 

6. the fool, drc.]— As some place the Sovereign Good in a gay, 
and idle, and dissolute course of life, which, in Scripture, is 
called folly, the Preacher, in this section, reviews their opinion, 
and pronounces such a life to be **M1 of travail and vexation of 

— foldeth his hands] — ^That is, in an agony of grief, when he 
perceives the lamentable consequences of his folly. — See Critical 
Note (♦. ) 

DureU, however, thinks it may, in verse 3, be a noun, signifying 
delighi, or pleasure, that is, ** with whom pleasure hath not been." 

* All the ancient versions support the received rendering ef 
^•DD, " the fool;" but Dathe renders it by " ignavus/* and 
Durell by '' the inactive," which is certainly not opposed by the 
context, and is, in some degree, favoured by Plrov. vi. 10, xxiv. 
33. brtf, however, is the proper word for a sluggard, a shthjid 
person; and ^«Dd property denotes a stupid person, one insensible 


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6. beiier is an kandJiU, Ac] — ^Those who interpret die pie- 
ceding verse of the slothful man; consider these words as spok^i 
by the sluggard ; but as the former verse seems to describe the 
foolish or irreligious man, they are more jusdy taken as the words 
of Solomon, the meanmg of which is expressed in the Paraphrase. 

8. there ii not a second] — Either no wife, or no friend, or, as 
seems more probable, no son to inherit, as heir, the fruit of all his 

•— Far whom do I labowr] — ^The author, according to some, 
by a bold prosopopeia, puts these words into the mouth of the 
nttser. ** Solomon suddenly changes the turn of his phrase,'' says 
Desvoeux, p. 350, ** from the third to the first person, and goes 
on with an argument, which is apparently the result of the inward 
thoughts of a man circumstanced as him of whom he was speak- 
ing; of a man who is not able to account to himself for his own 
conduct." I think, on the contrary, that the words contain 
Solomon's own reflection, and that they are correctly rendered in 
the received translation, the particle Van being properly rendered 
** neither" after a negative : so Vulgate. 

9. two are better ^ &c.] — It is matter of no small difficulty to 
discover the scope and <k>nnexion of the passage from this verse 
to the end of the chapter. Many consider it, particularly verses 
9—12, as a contmuation of the description of (he bad effects and 
folly with which avarice is chargeable. An attentive perusal, 
however, must convince the reader that it was not meant, in tins 
place, to delineate the dbadvantages of covetousness, but the 

in mind or understanding, and cannot, perhaps, be better ren- 
dered than by " fool ;" namely, a person destitute of wisdom or 
religion. For an explanation of ^D3, see the note to my Trans- 
lation of Proverbs, ch. iii. 26. 


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90 NOTES. [chap. IV. 

adTanteg^es of society; these verses, dien, cannot belong to the 
subject tceated in the eighth verse. A new topic is commenced 
at the nindi veree, and, as it should seem, is continued to the end 
of the ohi^pter. From contemplating, in the preceding section, 
the foUy of the miser, who has neidier child nor brother, nor heir 
apparent for his riches, the Preacher is naturally led to contrast 
the comforts and advantages of society ^ith such solitary selfish- 
ness. The general sentiment may a{^y to any union founded 
on generous principles, as that of marriage, of friendship, of 
religious communion ; but the subsequent verses clearly limit it 
to the union of civil polity. The royal sage, in strict accordance 
with his main position, observes that, granting society to have its 
blessmgs and advantages, yet dominion and empire are only 
vanity as far as regards the Supreme Good of man. Inmiense 
benefits undoubtedly arise from the social union, to the existence 
of which some species of government is necessary ; yet the 
power of royal domination and the splendour of imperial magni- 
ficence do not satisfy the vast desires of the soul ; and kings, in 
the plenitude of their authority, must confess, as well as the 
humblest of their subjects, that all is vanity and vexation of 

— « a good reward] — Dr. Durell renders this clause, *' because 
diey have a greater advantage in their labour," and observes, 
that '* this sense is more consistent with truth, as well as the 
C(mtext : and it is well known that the Hebrews are unacquainted 
with the comparative degree, which the exigentia loci alone can 
tietermine.*'— ('CVt^ Rem. in loc.) What the learned critic means 
by diis observation is hard to say. Ilie Hebrews certainly do 
not form the degrees of comparison by a terminal variation, but 
they contrive to express them by other means. The version of 
'Desvoeux likewise is, '* because they have a better reward for 
their common labour;" so Boothroyd. Mo gck>d reason, how- 
ever, is alleged for deserting the plain and natural construcdon, 
which is, " because they have (or there is to them) a good reward 

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ill or for Ibeir labour/' Dr. Wells supposes an allusuMi in this 
verse to Grea. ii. 18, where it is declared not to be good for 
Adam to be alone. 

10. ForiftheyfaU\-^ThfU is^ if one faU, or if either fall; die 
plural being used distributiTely. This surelj is not to be limited 
to the literal sense ; it includes much nrore ; and implies, that if a 
man in society fall into errors of conduct, or into misfortune and 
distress, his friend, by good advice, will rectify the former, and 
by kkid assistance remedy the latter. 

11. If tvoo lie together, &c,] — ^This is sometimes explained in 
ref<»rence to a man and his wife. Mr. Harmer (Observations, 
tol. i. p. 26&) conceives that it may refer to sleeping together for 
medicinal purposes; and this b favoured by the circumstance, 
that the heat of the climate rendering it inconvenient for two to' 
i4eep in one bed during the summer months, it is seldom prac- 
tised;, and that a person. was ordered to sleep with David, with 
a view to recall the vital heat, which was almost extinguished in 
&e aged monarch. — (1 Kings i. 1, 2.) Others think it refers to 
sleeping together in winter; and this is most probable, since, 
though the summers in the Holy Land are overpoweringly hot, 
the winters are cold and severe. — (See Harmer, Observations, 
vol. i. p. 89, etseq.; Paxton, Illustrations of Scripture, vol. ii. 
p. 265.) But to whatever the verse may immediately refer, it 
would be very unimportant if restricted to the literal sense. It 
was doubtless intended to portray, under the image of two 
persons sleeping together, the warm, affectionate, and cheering 
deI^^ts enjoyed in society, as contradistinguished from the cold 
and stoic uniformity of solitary existence. 

12. And if one prevail, &c.] — Here the advantages of society 
are described in icegard to this particular, that it affords the means 
of mutusi aid and assistance, both against spiritual temptations 
and external assaults. The last clause ** for a threefold cord is 
not quickly broken," is probably a proverbial expression, denoting; 

D D 


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&2 NOTES. [chap* IV. 

the benefits resuHhig from tbe union ni civfl society.-— See Critical 
Note (♦.) 

13. Better is, &c.] — This is intimately connected with die 
subject of die foregoing yerse. From considering the comlorts 
and utility of society, die Preacher'now turns his attentiott to civil 
goTeramenty which is necessary to die existence of die soicial state; 
and conchides that honours, power, and dominion^ diough somfat 
widi so much eagerness and contendon, confer no lasting and 
genuine felicity. This is so e^idendy the scope and ooBnexion 
of verses 13 — 16, diat it is surprising the commentators should 
look for any odier. — See Michaelis, Nat. Uber. in loc. 

— okiU\'—Thht is to say, a young man ; for th^ Helnrews did 
not limit die term to childhood. — See Critical Note (f.) 

* The affix Van, in inpns for in or u, is dsewheie^ though not 
frequendy, so used; as, Exod. xxii. 30; Jer. xxiii. 6; Hos. viiL 3; 
Psalm xxxy. 8. It is referred by G^ier and Dathe to the 
solitary person spoken of in Terse 11, who cannot be wann ; bat 
it may be put diiAributiTely for any person. 

t DesToeux renders pot) by ** die experienced and wise son,'' 
and Hodgson, by " a feeble but wise youth ;" yet the traditioBaxy 
sense of poor is to be preferred; because, first, it suits the coslext 
in all die places where it occurs, namely, ch. iy. 13, ix. 15, IG; 
and Ihe root had diis signification likewise in Deut yiii. 9; IsaiiA 
xl. 20. Secondly, all the and^t versions support tins sense. 
Thirdly, in all the sister dialects die root pD, or its dernratiyesy 
denote poverty, to be poor, as may be seen in Castell, Lex Hepi» 
The received sense, therefore, is supported by all the evidence 
die case admits, and cannot be deserted cdnsistendy with the 
laws of sound criticism. The root, it is tme, has othnr aenses 
apparently incompatible widi this; but such contrariety. <tf senses 
is not mtexampkd, even in the sacred languages. Wonb» by 


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14. apotiatei] — I hafe no hesitation in adopting PorUiuTst's 
derivation of anion from iid lo turn tudde, to apottotftxe^ Aoufii 
I hare ex{)lained it in my Paraphrase somewhat d^erentl j.— «0oe 
ParUiorst in ID, and Gk^nsset in iiD« M.) If tb^ received trans* 
lation, ** €ffak of prison," be retained, it may he uaderstood 
fignratively iot ^* from a mean condition/' " from a low onginj^ 
-^See van der Pahn and Bauer tii loc) Some^ however, lake H 
IheraHy out of {nison, where he had been pat for some supposed 
offiBuce; and Dr. Wells thinks it not unlikely thai Solomon had 
respectto the case of Joseph in Egypt 

15. the second chUd] — If this refer to the '^ poor and wise 
child" mentioned in verse 13, it must be understood of one chosen 
by the providence of God to the kingly dignity, as David was,^ 
from a low and humble station; but it seems rather to refer to 
him who is the second in the kingdom, the son and successor o{ 
the reigning monarch, ** who shall stand up in his stead." — See 
Critical Note (♦.) 

k^gth of time, change of modes and customs, and various un-* 
known causes, acquire pew, and sometimes discordant meanmgs; 
and &e critic is not justified in rejecting a signification established 
by scriptural usage, versions, and dialects, though he cannot 
discover its connexion with other acknowledged senses of the 
same root 

* The authorized translation, ** all the living which walk 
pinder the sun, with the second child that shall stand up in his 
stead," is inadmissible. Either the verb substantive must be 
understood before iV*n QM ; thus, ** all the living which walk 
under the sun A>EE with, i. e. favour and siq;>port, the second 
diild :" or this elaiise must be construed with o^s^nnrrr who walk, 
in the former hemistich ; thus, ** all the living under tiicrsun who 
walk with, t. e. fayour the second child," The sense is much the 


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04 NOTES. [chap, IV. 

— who skmii itmmd upmkii itetid] — In whose stead? Hie 
pronoiin rehtiTe may refer to ** the foolish king/' mentioned in 
verse 13 ; but t am of opinion it is put distributfydy, namely, in 
any king's stead ; and therefore the yerse refers to the state and 
conation of kings in general. Men are extremdy ready to wor- 
ship die rinng sun ; and it is the unhappiness of princes, if they 
live long, to find the honour whieh is due to them transferred, 
tiirongh the sdf-interested views of mankind, to the heir appar^t 
of the throne. The Preacher further illustrates this in the next 
verse, by declaring that even a wise adnumbitration, evinced by 
increasing numbers and prosperity of the people, cannot ensure 
the attachment of subjects, who are apt to become weary both of 
the aged monarch himself and of his government 

16. There is no end of all the people] — According to De Dieu, 
Patric, WeUs, Holden, Henry, and others, the meaning is, tlttre 
is no end to the fickleness of the people, no bounds to their in- 
constancy; every nation being alike subject to levity and mi^- 
bility : but it seems clear, from the scope of the passage, that the 
writer designed to express the idea of multitude, of a numerous 
and increasing population, especially as the phrase ^ there is no 
end" is often used to denote a great or indefinite nnmber. — See 
verse 8 and zii. 12; Isuah ii. 7; Nahum iii. 2. See Bishoip 
Reynolds and Poli Synop. 

— orer whotn he reigned] — Literally, '* of all in whose pre- 
sence he is, or, before whom he is," which evidently means those 
over whom he reigns : '* quibus se ducem praebet,'' Dathe. In 
verses 13 — ^16 .there appears to be no reference to contemporary 

same, but the Masoretic punctuation opposes the latter. — ^If " the 
second child" refer to the ** poor and wise chUd" in verse 13, 
Uttm i^m would be better rendered ""' the other chad.''--^See 
TayWs Ccncordance. 


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CHAP, v.] NOTES. 96 

history, as some imagine ; nor are there any grounds for consider- 
ing it prophetical of Solomon's successor, as Dr. Bernard Hodgson 
supposes. The discourse turns upon sovereign power in general 
and in the abstract — The afBx in onufi^ refers to the preceding 
collective noun sjr the people. 


1. Keep thy foot, &c.] — Having remarked that full satisfaction 
cannot be extracted from honours, dignity, and rank, no, not from 
thrones and sceptres, the Preacher now adverts to the service 
which is rendered to the King of kings, and notices a vanity even 
in this; not, indeed, in its own nature, but in the manner in which 
it is performed by tiie foolish and irreverent In ch. xii. 1 and 
other ^xts, the author highly commends piety and the wor- 
ship of God; '* but whilst he admits the truth of this proposition, 
that the worship of God constitutes a most important part of the 
present happiness of mankind, he reminds these persons, that 
they may put vanity into this very worship, and render it unprofit- 
able to their welfare, by their thoughtless and carnal performance 
of sacred duties : yea, that there may be divers vanities therein', 
(verse 7;) for the discovery and avoiding of which he presents a 
solemn caution to those who, being convinced of vanity in the 
creatures, apply to God in his instituted worship, to benefit them- 
selves." — (Bishop Reynolds in he,) This caution he exemplifies, 
first y in our general conduct in devotional exercises, (verse 1;) 
secondly, in prayer, (verses 2, 3;) thirdly, in vows, (verses 4, 5, 6;) 
and, lastly, proposes the remedy of these vanities in a principle of 
deep-rooted piety and reverence for God; " but fear thou God," 
(verse 6.) 

The meaning of the expression '* keep thy foof ' is, conduct 

^tliyself prudentiy, and observe due decorum, when thou goest to 

the house of God to join in the sacred rites of religion. There 

is an allusion to the ancient custom of discalceation wh^i entering 

upon the performance of rebgious ordinances. It was usual widi 


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96 NOTES. [chap. v. 

Pagftnty Jews, Mohammedaas, and sqme Chnsttans to put off 
tkeir shoes or sandals on entering a temple for the purpose of 
worship.— -<Seo Mode, Works, p. 347; Bynnus, de Cakeis 
BdnPturmm, lib. iL cap. 2 and 8 ; Parkhorst, Lex. in hpi ; Rosen* 
mailer^ Scholia in Exod. iii. 5.) When the Almighty appeared 
in the bush, he commanded Moses to loose his shoes from off 
his feet, (Exod. iii. 5;) and " the captain of the Lord's host,^ 
an appellation of the appearing-angel, the Angel-Jehovah^ who 
was our blessed Lord, '' said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoes from 
off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy," (Joshua 
T. 15.) Discakeatiou, as an act of reverence, might originate 
from these commands, though Le Clerc, in his note on Exod. iiL 5, 
thinks that it obtained much eariier, and that God enjoined Moses 
to perfinrm this rite in compliance with a custom already received. 
Be this as it may, by keeping or observing the foot is undotibtedly 
meant >die care, circumspection, and reverence required in the 
exercise of Divine worship; for, to use the words of the learned 
Made, '* not as if Solomon or die Holy Ghost in this admonitioii 
intended the outward ceremony only, (that were ridiculous to 
imagine;) but the whole act of sacred reverence, commenced 
in the heM and affection, whereof this was the accustomed and 
leadmg gesture."— IForiU, p. 349. See Critical Note (*.) 

* The clause nit C3*^D3n nnn ifom^ iiipi is rendered by our 
translators and others, '' be more ready to hear (han to give Ihe 
sacrifice of Ibols;'' that is, be more intent upon receiving in- 
struction, and paying moral obedience, than iqpon offering the 
mere formal sacrifices of the foolish : an excellent sehse tnily ; 
but as the order of the words does not well admit this translation, 
others, supplying l or O]^, render it, " be more ready to hear 
than to offer with fools a sacrifice;" to which it may be objecflBd, 
that it refers naf to nr)D» whereas no instance of nit bein^ eo&!> 
strued with fm has been produced*. It seems, ^erefore^ pre^ 
fen^ble>tojrenderit^ ^^to biiereadyto obey is a better saMficedian 
tibe offiMWf (rf fools;'' and my reasonr for itdt^pting.tlds version; 


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CHAP. V.} NOTES. 97 

2* Betu^ rush wUk thy mouthy &d.]-^Tliat is, be not rash and 
precipitate in thy speech ; utter nothing unadfiaedly, when en- 
gaged in the worship of €k>d. Compare Matt. tL 7. 

— fcT God ii t» heaven, and thou npan earth] — ^That is, as 
Diodati observes, seeing thou, a weak, earthly creature, speakest 
to the Creator in his heavenly glory, do it with reverence and 

a. For as a dreamy &c.]— This, I apprehend, is a comparison, 
dKNigh the particle of comparison is omitted, as is often^the case, 
(OiasB, Phil. Sac. p. 441,) and is designed to illustrate the 
foregoing precept, ** let thy words be few" when performing the 
offices of piety and prayer. The sense dierefore is, as a dream, 
ffith all its incoherent images, often proceeds from a multitude of 

which neariy coincides with that of Desvoeux, are, first, it suits 
the context, the scope of which is to prove, that even religious 
(^ces ntiay be rendered vain by folly, and thence to recommend 
reverence and devotion in the public service of God, as being 
■KNre acceptable to him than all the offermgs of the wicked. 
Secon^y, this is taking the words in ^ir natinal and obvicKis 
construction, as will be evident upon an examinatioD. Thirdly, 
the 'verb jfcw often means to obey, especially 1 8am. xv. 2i, 
** Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice," &c. to which Solomon 
semns heie to aUude. Fourthly, this rendering is (sanctioned by 
the ancient versions : *' approfmiqua ut audias ; multo enim melior 
est obedientia quam stultomm victimee,'' Vulgate; the Syiiac is, 
" dmw neat to hear, (or, be ready to obey,) which is bett^ than 
die oblations that ibols offer;" Kat tyyvq tov cucoveiv, wrep ^/m tov 
afpoytiy %ma oov, LXX ; the sense of which seems to be, that 
** being ready to hear (or, to ob6y) is an oblation for thee above 
the gift of fools." The Targum is paraphrastical. For these 
reasons I have not scrupled to adopt the rendering given in the 


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98 NOTES. [chap. V, 

bttwieM ill which our thoughts have been deeply engaged; so, in 
tibe worsh^ of €k>d, does, a (boFs ymoe, t. e. idle, foolish speedi, 
arise from using a multitude of words. In devotional exercises 
*' much speaking^ as naturally gives rise to folly and incon- 
sistency, as much busbess does to dreams and vi^ons of the 
night — See Doederiein, SckoUa in loc. 

4. When thou vousesf] — ** A tow is a solemn promise, or 
promissory oath, made to God, by which a person voluntarily 
iMuds himself to something which was in his own power. Solomon 
does not here direct us to make such a vow; but, haying brought 
owrselyes under its obligation, to be cautious of violating our 
en^^agement with God, who never fails in any ope of his promises 
to us, (Joshua xxi. 45,) nor delays its performance beyond the 
exact time, £xod. xiL 41, 51 ; Hab. ii. 3 ; 2 Pet iii. 9." — Bishop 
Reynolds in loc. 

6. befrre the angel\ — Solomon in this v^rse continues the con- 
sideration of vows, and, consequently, by ** the angel" is meant 
the priest It appears, from Ley. v. 4, e^ $eq., that a breach of 
any vow was to be confessed before the priest, whose duty it. was 
to make an atonement for it The sense therefore is, when ^km 
^oest before the priest to acknowledge the breach of a yow, do 
not endeayour to excuse or extenuate the offence, by alleging 
frivolous excuses. Sin is still crimmal, and it is an aggravation 
of it to encourage the vain expectation,, that it is of such a nature 
that God will not deem fit to chastise. Priests are called 
<< angels" Job xxxiii. 23 ; Mai. ii. 7 ; Rev. i. 20. Some, following 
IKede, ( Works, p. 438,) take ** angel" here collectiyely for more 
than one, and, considering the verse as a caution against rash 
yows, explain it thus : ** do not hastily engage thyself in such 
yows as the weakness of human nature. and thy fleshy reluctance 
vriU not suffer thee to perform; much less think of being ab- 
solved from the obligations thou layest on thyself, in the presence 
of God and of his holy angels, by such foolish excuses as these : 
It was a mistake; I did not mind what 1 said," &c««-(Patric, 


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CHAP, v.] NOTES. 99 

Pmrapknue in loc.) Some again suppose, that by ** angel'^ Is 
meant God; others, Christ, the Angel of the Covenant; others^ 
ime of the ministering angels, employed to inspect and guard the 
pious; but I have no doubt the true interpretation is given above 
in the Paraphrase. The expression ** thy fit A" in die first 
clause of the vOTse, is equivalent to *' thyself.'^ In the same way 
** flesh^ is used, by a synecdoche, for the whole man, ch. ii. 8; 
Gen. vi. 12; Isaiah xl. 5; Rom. iii. 20. 

7. For in fhe mtdtitude, &c.] — ^The obscurity of this verse 
arises from the difficulty of discovering its connexion, and the 
commentators are, as usual, very various. I take it to contain a 
reason for the admonition given immediately before, naAnely, 
Endeavour not to excUse the breach of thy vows by alleging many 
things in extenuation of the offence; for as in the multitude of 
dreams there are multifarious vanities, so likewise are there in a 
multitude of words, spoken with a view to excuse any trans-: 
gression. It is as useless to expect to conceal the hideous de- 
pravity of sin by palliatives, as to expect method and coherence^ 
in the dreams oi the night; therefore, '* fear thou, t. e. revereiice 
€k)d.'' — ^The Preacher has not stopt to specify the inference from 
what he has advanced in this section ; but it is evidently this : 
Except thou takest care to avoid Ae errors which are too fre- 
quent in public worship, thy religious services will be vain and 
unprofitable. That which is the bounden duty and the highest 
interest of man, will, by an improper performance, become 
vanity, and, instead of conferring comfort and satisfaction, wilt 
tend to the increase of sorrow and affliction. 

8. If thou seest, &c.] — It appears to be the scope of this dlffi-' 
cult section to declare, that there is a vanity in murmuring at 
oppression and injustice, since, as the Almighty regards whatei^^r 
is done in the earth, we must conclude that he permits the lawless 
despotism of the cruel for wise and righteous purposes. This' 
subject, though not necessary to be introduce into this part of the 
diseovne, mseu .naturally from the foregoing argument touchhig 

£ E 


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100 NOTESk [chap. V- 

Ihe fenrices doe from man to die Supreme Being. Twm reflect- 
ing upon die errors by which religious offices are perverted, the 
Preacher adverts to another dosely-allied error, that of refMning 
at tibe prevalence of secular power cruelly and tyrannically exer- 
cised; and sudi complaints, he asserts, should be silenced by a 
belief in the sovereignty and providence of God, who will finally 
adjust all inequalities, and repair all evil. Such appears to be 
the design of thb passage, which must be considered in the 
light of a digression from his principal argument — See Critical 

* If the word ffin be here taken in the sense of will, purpose, 
ineUnatian, it may refer either to men or to God. — (See ch. iii. 1, 
note.) In the former case the meaning will be, '' marvel not at 
the wicked purpose of oppreisors, for he that is/' &c. Each of 
these is supported by respectable names; but I am inclined to 
abide by the received translation, *' marvel not at the matter,'' 
which is confirmed by the LXX, Vulgate, and Syriac. — Hie 
phrase '* he that is higher than the highest," (ni:i hpD ni:i, 
literally, ** he that is high above the high,") is probably an 
Hebraical expression for the High and Lofty One who inhalHteth 
eternity. It may, however, be rendered, ** for he that is High 
(or die High One) from above regardeth the high," that is, re- 
gardeth the great and powerful oppressors.— (See Moldius, ^j^d, 
11.) The last clause, ** there be higher than they," is difficult by 
reason of the aq^iguity of the terms on*Vj^ omia. The former 
of tbese wiurds may denote the high princes' and governors of the 
world, or the High Ones, tbe sacred Persons of the Holy Trinity ; 
and in this sense it has been understood by several Jewish and 
Chrbtian expositors. — (See Poli Synop.; Michaelb, Not Uber. 
in loc. ; Jones, Catholic Doctrine of the Trinitif, ch. iiL § a.) The 
word tDwbf also may be rendered not only '' above them," but 
likewise ** against them ;" and if referred to tt^n the poor, a noun 
of multitude occurring in the first hemistich, the meaning may be, 
** For he that ii high (or the Bigk One) regardeth the high 


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CHAP, v.] NOTES. 101 

9. Moreover the profit^ &e.]— This obscure rerse has been 
Tanonsly explamed by ancient and modem commentators^ most 
of whose opinions may be found in Poll Si^op. and Bauer, 
SchoUa in loc. ; nor is it easy to discover its scope and connexion. 
Perhaps the best way is to connect it witii die foregomg verse, as 
in the Paraphrase. 

10. He that hveth silver, &c.] — Here begins a new subject, 
namely, the vanity of riches, which is continued to the end of the 
chapter ; and the Preacher asserts, tiiat money, however it may 
be increased, or however desirable it may be in some respects, 
can never satisfy the desires of the souL — See Critical Note (*.) 

princes, and the high ones, whether governors or princes, who 
are against them ; i e. who are against tiie poor, and oppress 
them.'^ Or, if o»nia be referred to God, the meaning may be, 
'' For he that is high (or the High One) regardeth the high 
princes and oppressors, and the High Ones of the sacred Trinity 
are against tl^em who oppress the poor/' Still tiiere is not suf- 
ficient reason for departing from the authorized version, and I 
have given, in the Paraphrase, what appears to me to be the sense 
oftiie passage. 

* The second hemistich, which, according to E. T., is, " nor 
he that loveth abundance with increase,'' is rendered by Des* 
voenx, ** and who loveth numerous company? no income shall be 
sufficient far him:*' and Gousset (Comm. Ling. Heb. npn, C; 
see also Poli Synop, in loc.) understands p»n to mean a multitude 
-of men and servants ; but the word is sometimes used to denote 
an abundance of treasure, rerum copia, 1 Chron. xxix. 16; Psalm 
xxxvii. 16. — (See Cocceii Lex. Heb. ed. Schulz.) Bishop Patric, 
following De Dieu, says, ** The latter end of this verse runs thus 
in the Hebrew text: whoso loveth (i.e. silver) reaps no fruit of 
hi$ abundance ; i. e. doth not employ it, as St. ]ffierom expounds 
it; which is very often the miserable oondition of worldy-minded 

lOjl NOTES. [chap. y. 

11. whmt g^od U time, &c.]— The meaninf may h%, ikaX the 
rich derive no other satis&ctioii fron their wealdi l)m& the em^ 
and delusive pleasure of gaang upon their hoards and possessions; 
bust, as " the sight of the eyes'* means the enjoyment of fHreseot 
things, ch. yi. 9, (see the note there.) I rath^ think the sense 
is, '' what advantage have the owners of great riches," saving 
« the beholding of them with their eyes/' that is, unless they 
eiyoy them with contentment and moderation ? But I have not 
vratured to express this in the Paraphrase.— T^lien it is said 
before ** when goods increase, they are increased that eat diem," 
the meaning clearly is, that the consumers of them are multif^ecL 
In proportion as a man's possessions increase, the number of his 
servants, labourers, and dependants becomes greater; in con- 
sequence of which there are greater demands upon his revenue. 

12. hul the oftimdaiioe]— The original word miqr likewise be 
rendered, " the fubess," or, "the satiety;" and, in any sense ia 
which it can be taken, the truth of the observation is apparent 

If the clause be considered, with Schmidt and Dathe, as 
dliptical, it may be sup{died in the following manner: " He that 
loveth sUver shall never be satisfied with silver, nor whosoever 
loveth abundance which ha$ no profit :" (or, taking *d interroga- 
tively, ^ and who loveth abundance which has iao profit?) This 
also is vanity." The general sense is clear; He shall never be 
satisfied who delights in useless abundance, and the Engli^ 
version a[^ars sufiiciently accurate. It may indeed be objected, 
that inH is perhaps never construed with i, most assuredly never 
ia the writings of Solomon ; but i in ponn may be superfluous, 
as similar redundancies of i after verbs governing the accusative 
are very frequent; (see Noldius, Concord, Partic. iu i, 3^;) and 
if no similar example after anM can be found, it is not contrary 
to tiie idiom of the Hebrew tongue. It must always be reitoem* 
bered, thai many forms of expression only appear an<mialou8 fifOm 
ibe paucity of vnritiDgs in that language. 


CHf F. V,] NOTES. 103 

13*. Tiere u « Mre m4 &c.] — Riches often prove injurioiM to 
tlie owners, by ^](posulg them to the external dangers of robbery 
^a&i oppresaiony and by occasioning still greater dangers from 
within, as being temptations to avarice, violence, sensuality, 
pride, &c, 

14« ky evil lr«tMff7]-^That is, either by improvidence and 
Tice; or by the constant, though ineffectual, trouble to preserve 
them ; or by the fraud and treachery of othen^ ; or by misfortune, 
which may be regarded as the punishment inflicted by the 
Supreme Being upon avarice. It is rendered by Hodgson 
** through misfortune ;" so Dathe and Boothroyd. — See Critical 
Note to ch. i. 13, 

— there is nothing in his hand'\ — ^That is, through various 
oasualkiQS, there is nothing of all his wealth to leave to his pos- 

16. laboured far the wind] — *' He hath got no benefit at all, 
embracing a shadow, grasping the air, catching at the wind, 
wearying himself for that which hath no substance of true felicity 
in k."— ^Pemble, t» loe. Compare Jer. v. 13 ; Ezek. v. 2 ; Hos. 
xii. 1 ; Ps. i. 4; Job. vi. 26 ; 1 Cor. ix. 26, xiv. 9. 

17. ibeiloelft]^-'Iitemlly, '' he eateth ;" but as this hemistich is 
figuratiFe, tiie ^* eating^' being intended to intimate the whole 
conise of Jife, and die " darkness'* a state of care and perplexity, 
il is better to render it as in the Paraphrase; or, according to 
Durell, '^he consumeth also all his days in darkness."~See 
eh. vi. 2. See Critical Note (*.) 

*.I have Tender^ nx^n orpi " and sorrow increaseth," which 
is the literal v/^rsiton,. taking n^"^Tt for the Praet Hiph. ; or, taking 
it as. a noun adjective, the same s^se results, that is, ** sorrow is 
much, or great, and his infirmity, and wrath.^-*-Houbigant, van 
der Palm, and Durell propose to omit the Vau in vhn, as is done 


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104 NOTES. [chap. V. 

18. Behold a good, &c.] — Having painted in strong colours the 
ranity of riches, the royal sage here obyiates an inference which 
some might be apt to draw from his observations, namely, that 
ridies are in themselves pernicious. All enjoyment of them is 
not fiurbidden, neither are diey bad in their nature ; It is the 
abuse alone which is to be condemned ; and, therefore, he now 
proceeds to give some admomtions respectbg the proper use of 
them, corresponding to vrhat he had previously observed, di. in. 
12, 13. Compare ch. ii 24.— See Critical Note (*.) 

20. he wiU reimember, &c.] — Never having abused his good 
fortune, die recoUection of the past will bring no anxiety, no 
alarm ; and his heart will be tranquillized by the pious sentiment, 
that, whatever share in the good things of this worid he has 
enjoyed, he is indebted for it to tiie mercy and benevolence of 
the Almighty. With this laudable and becoming use of weahh, 
the Preacher, in the next section, contrasts the vanity and mis- 
chief of avarice, whose character it is to abuse prosperity and 
wealth.— See Critical Note (f.) 

in one MS. Ken. and by all the ancient versions, but, as it seems, 
without any necessity. 

* The word ntt^H, in ni)^ *itt^M, translated in the Paraphrase 
*' which is bonourable," is here rendered by the copulative *' et/* 
by £. T., Syriac, Munst., Piscat, Vatab., Drus., Deod., Schindl., 
Castel., Nold., Glass, Dathe, van der Palm ; but I much doubt 
whether it ever signifies et, and. I have followed the best au- 
thority, that of the LXX, idov o liov tyia ayuSov, o tvnv jcoXov. 

t I take n^^n to refer to nnn in tiie precedmg verse; that is, 
although the enjoyment of wealth, which is Ihe gift of Gh>d, be 
not much, yet he will remember the days of his Ufe. — ^T%e last 
hemistich \3h nnott^i n^j^p c^n^Hn o is variously rendered; but 
I consider rMpia here to have die sense of exercmnff, as in ch. 
i. 18, where see the Notes. 

Digitized by 


CHAP. VI.} NOTES. 105 


1. There i$ an evil, &c.] — The Preacher, in this sectioii, shows 
the yanity of heapiog up treasures, which a man of a coTetous 
dispontion cannot enjoy. Avarice, however common in the 
world, is a great and heinous sin ; it never yet produced content- 
ment ; for which reason a man's Chief Good cannot consist in the 
abundance of his treasures. Intimately as this topic is connected 
with tliat of the preceding section, they are not precisely the same. 
The former relates to the vanity of riches and their acquirement 
in general ; and the latter to the vanity of that insatiable desire 
of amasnng treasures which is denominated avarice : the former 
refers to wealth in the abstract, the latter more particularly to its 
abuse ; and Solomon is led to this subject, by an easy transition, 
from the reflection which he had made immediately before upon 
the {»t>per use and enjoyment of riches. 

2. 90 that he wanieth for nothing] — ^The meaning is, that 
Providence has been so Uberal to him as to deny him nothing 
which he can reasonably desire for his comfort and accom- 
modation. The phrase, however, " for his soul," (Heb. iit^fijV,) 
is in thb application ambiguous, as it may mean " to himself," 
'^ to his appetite and desire," or •• for his use and enjoyment" — 
(See Michaelis, Not. Uher. in loc.) The Polyglott, versions, 
£. T., &c. adopt the literal rendering '' to or for his soul," which 
seems preferable to any other. 

— God giveth him not power to ea<]— As there can be no 
criminality in not using wealth aright, if God denies the power, 
some commentators explain this clause of God's withholding the 
power by way of punishment for an unjust acquirement or an 
abuse of riches. But as God is, in Scripture, said to do what he 
permits, the sense most probably is, that although the person 
qpoken of have every thmg he can desire, yet he has been suf- 
fered by Divine Providence to cherish a covetous disposition to 


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106 NOTES. [chap. VI. 

sucb a degree as to be unabk to enjoy his treasares. ** To eat,*^ 
in Scripture language, is often pot for ** to enjoy,** ch. iL 24, 35, 
iiL 13, T. 18, m. 15.— See Glass, PkU. Sac p. 1185. 

— an evil diMeate] — It is not impKed in tins expression tliat 
coyetousness is a constitutional d^ase : it means that the pos- 
session of riches, without the power of enjoying them, b a Tery 
grieTOUS trouble ; (compare ch. ii. 21, t. 16;) or is the cause of 
disease, by creating incessant cares and anxious fears, and by 
leading a man to deny himself the real comforts, and sometimes 
the necessaries, of Ufe. 

Z. If a num, beget, &c.] — ^This yerse does not form the com- 
mencement of a new topic, as many commentators suppose, but 
is immediately connected with the preceding ; by *' man," q^«m, 
therefore, is not denoted anymaUy but the man spoken of in the 
second yerse, or such a man as is there described. It is scarc^ 
necessary to observe, that the expression " an hundred children,'' 
means very many : a certain number for an uncertain. — See Cri- 
tical Note (*.) 

* Durell contends that m^» is to be construed with hmo, and 
accordingly he renders this hemistich, '* though he beget an 
hundred males." His reasons are, that ** m^^ of the preceding 
yerse is certainly the nominatiye, which would, therefore, be un- 
necessarily repeated here ; neither wodld it, in that case, be [rfaced 
after theyerb; and this shows that it is goyemed by it in an 
oblique case, as it cannot be used absolutely, on which account 
our yersion adds the word chiTdreh.*^ It is irue^ that »m ih^ 
man, in yerse 2, is the subject to which the obserrafions in this 
yerse relate ; but m^ik is not unnecessarily repeated, sfs* either it, 
or a pronoun, expressed or understood, 'miist be used -for ft nondh 
native to the yerb, and it is usual for the Hebrews td repeat the 
noun, instead of substituting a pronoun, for which hk^ I^obeii»<on, 
Oram, p. 317; Glass, Phil, Sac, p. 150. His secoM reason b 


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CHAP. VI.] NOTES. 107 

— have no bunal]^^The meaniiig may be, that such ^ man is 
too coyetous and narrow-minded to provide a decent sepulchre 
for his remains ; but it refers, more probably, to the way in which 
hia dead body will be treated by his heirs. Though the miser, 
who has abused his wealth, should have a midtitude of diBdreny 
and should live to a good old age, yet he would derive no satis- 
faction from his good things, and his children would neither 
lament hb death, nor consign his remains to the earth with funereal 
honours. By ** no burial" is not to be understood, that he shall 
be cast out without interment, but that at death he shall be with*, 
out those rites and honours which are always paid at the sepul- 
ture of the virtuous and illustrious. It iawell known that the 
ancient Jews, like most of the Asiatics, conducted the funerab 
of their friends and relatives with great ponip and magnificence,, 
and were extremely anxious not to omit this last tribute of respect 
to the departed. To be without burial, therefore, was considered 
as the last stage of human misery. — See Harmer, Obgervatimu, 
vol. iii. chap. 7; Lamy, Apparat. Bibl. lib. i. cap. 14; Ikenius, 

wholly undeserving of notice, as nothing is more common than for 
a nominative to be placed after a verb. It might be matter of 
surprise that Dr. Durell could be led to make such a remark, did 
we not reflect that the most learned writers, in moments of 
inadvertence, have fallen into errors, into which minds of lesser 
attamments have seldom been betrayed.— The next clause, vw 
♦D^ vn»» ail, is rendered byDesvoeux, ** Nay, though he shauid 
be a senator on account of tiie days of his years;", and it might 
be adopted, to avoid the tautology, could sufficient pioof be 
^v^n of nn being used for a senator, or a man wise and expe- 
rienced through age; but the learned writer's examples are not 
satisfactory. The rendering of the authorized version, which 1 
have adopted, is natural and unforced; it is supported by the 
ancient versions; and such tautologies are not unfrequent in the 
Sacred Writings* 
F F 


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108 NOTES, [chap. VI. 

AmHq. EA. P. ill. cap, 14; Jalw, AnAmoL BibL aeet 203 

— oji wiltiRe^ fririk u bMer ikon key-** Better i» the frvit 
t)iat drops from the tree before it is ripe, duui that which is leH 
to haag OS tiH it is rotten. Job, in his passioD, thinks the con- 
ditioii of an untimely birth better than his, when he was in 
adrersity, (Job iii. 10;) but Solomon here pronounceth it better 
than the oonditioB of a woridling in his greatest prosperity, when 
the world smiles upon him." — Matthew Heniy t» loe^ 

4. Far ke eomeik m, &c] — ^This Terse may, undoubted^, be 
explained of ^be miser; but it seems property to relate to ** tibe 
untimely birth" just before mentioned, because it is closely am- 
nected with the following Terse, which certainly refers to the 
abortiTC spoken of in Terse 3, and of which it is said, that ** he 
hath not seen the sun, nor known any thing.'* Bishop Patrick 
refers tiie verse under consideration both to the miser and the 
untimely birth, but, in my judgment, improperiy. 

6. Yea, tkomgh he Uve, &c.]-^If it be objected that the 
is better than an untimely birth, inasmuch as he has hved long, 
and life is a blessing, Solomon replies, that a long ^e, widiout 
enjoying good, is only protracted misery ; and that the miser, 
however long he may live, derives no solid comfort from his 
riches, which cannot exempt him, more than others, from the 
stroke of death; for ** do not all go to one [^ace?^ 

7. Aa the labour, <&c.]— This verse refers to ^e ** man" before 
mentioned, namdy, the miser; for it cannot be said, as a gmieral 
position, that ^' all the labour of man b for his mou&,^ or on his 
own account; but it is true of the miser, whose selfishness pre- 
dominates over every other consideration, and who, in every 
sdieme and action, keeps his own mterest steadily in view. And 
yet» however rich he may be, hb appetite for possessing more is 


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CHAP. VI.] NOTES. 109 

not satisfied, and he continues toiling to increase his hoards.— 
See Critical Note (*.) 

8. l%erefire what haih^ &c.] — If this rerse is not thrust in 
witiiout any relation to tiie context, it must refer to the ayaricioua 
man, who is tiie subject of tiie preceding observations; hence 
** the wise man,'' oan, is put ironically for this reputed, or this 
pretended wise man, the miser. This throws light upon a passage 
generally deemed so obscure, that Dn Wall thought ** the text 
seems mangled by scribes;" and Bishop Patrick says, ** There is 
so great a difficulty in this verse, that I did not know how to 
connect it with the foregoing." This difficulty arises from our 
translators having disturbed tiie connexion witii the conjunction 
** for" with which the sentence commences, as the verse forms 
no reason for tiiat which immediatdy precedes. Had they ren- 
dered the particle »d by an itlative ** then," " therefore," as it 
signifies in several other places, the connexion woidd have been 
plain; and this, with the next verse, would have appeared to be, 
what they really are, the conclusion to the Preacher's discussion 
upon avarice* 

— that knaweth to walk before the living] — ^This is commonly 
explained of living suitably to his circumstances and character, 
of liting discreetiy among men ; but it may only be a periphras- 
tical expression denoting the continuance of life. Compare 
ch. iv. 15 ; Psalm Ivi. 13, cxvi. 9; Isaiah xlii. 5. 

* Though in^i)^ may, with the generality of translators, be ren- 
dered ''for his mouth," I prefer taking ^wh for a particle denoting 
ieeimdum, pro ratume ; that is, all the labours of tlie miser is with 
respect to, or for himself, on his own account. If tiie received 
n^dering be retained, it must be understood figuratively, namely, 
for his gr atifica t i on. 


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110 NOTES. [chap. VI. 

9. Better ig, Secy-The Preacher has not returned the answer 
to Ike inquiry in the foregoing verBe, as to what are the reqpectiTe 
advantages of the poor man, and the worldling who is wise in his 
generation ; and has left it to be supplied by the reader, as b 
plain from what is stated in this Terse, which contains a reason 
for some preceding reflection or inference; but as nothing of thb 
kiiMi has been expressed, it must be supj^ed, and that given in 
the Pan^>hrase seems most agreeable to the scope of the context 
and to the observation here made. 

— the nght of the eyet] — ^As «' to see good" denotes " to 
«njoy,'' the phrase, ** the sight of the eyes,'' probably means con- 
tontment and satisfaction with present thbgs, a moderate enjoy- 
ment of them: *' praesentium fruitio," as Geier expresses it; 
** MeUuB e6t<eo frui quod video, quam animae desideiiis agitaxi,'^ 
Pathe's version; so VatabL, Merc., Orot, Wells, van der Palm, 
Bootbroyd^ ^c. — Here «ndft the first part of the discourse. 

10. 2%a<tDA«cftAa<A6eeii]— This section contains the res^t of 
Ike foregoing investigation, and is introductory to the second 
part of the treatise. The Preacher having stated, at the c<h&- 
menoement, that '' idl is vanity," and having demonstrated the 
truth of the proposition by a review of secular wisdom, folly, 
pleasures, honours, power, and riches, he, by way of conclusion, 
here observes, that, as the various circuoBstances, conditions, and 
pursuits of life have been examined, and have been found to be 
only vauity.' what is man profited by them with respect to solid 
imd permanent happiness ? If, as has been shown, they cannot 
render him happy, the inquiry still remains, '' What is realhf good 
for man in thb life ?" And as it is a most interesting inquiry, the 
Preacher now begins his discus»on of man's SovERBiQN Good, 
and ike result constitutes the remainder of the book, not always, 
indeed, loEgically stated and methodically arrapged, but the 
attentive reader will perceive that the whole tends to the same 
point, the recommendation of Wisdom, or Religion. 


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— iiii known that it is man] — ^That is, that vanity is man, or, 
in olber words, that his mere worldly occupations, pursuits, and 
enjoyments are vain. — See Critical Note (*.) 

•— neither may he ctmtend] — ^That is, man cannot reasonably 
sk in judgment or contend with God who is so infinitely above 
him; he cannot pretend to call his Maker to an account; and 
therefore ought not to presume to call in question the Divine dis- 
pensations and decrees. The Hebrew word denotes to $it in 
judgment^ to take cognisance of a cause. — See Taylor's Con* 
eordance in pi. 


1« A good namCf ^.]— In answer to the inquiry, ** Who 
knoweth what is good for man in this life?'' the Preacher begins 
by showing the advantages of reputation and affliction, which 
easily introduces the principal subject of the second part of the 
book, namely, the reconunendation of practical Wisdom, or 
Religion, commencing at the eleventh verse. By ** name" is 
meant character and reputation ; and the scope of the discourse 
makes it probable, that the author intended to limit it to the re- 
putation of True Wisdom. As a general proposition, however, 
it is true, that a good character is better than precious ointments. 

* The sense of ant^ t^in ntt^K 2^iuv would, perhaps, be clearer 
were it rendered, as the Hebrew well may, ** it is known that man 
is itself," i. e. is that vanity which we have seen; or, ** it is known 
what man is," taking ntt^K for what^ iUud quod, ** subintdlecto 
sciL ad quod refertur, subjecto," asTympius remarks on Noldius, 
Concorde in voc., and understanding Min for the verb substantive. 
Thus the sense is brought out, *' it is known what man is," that 
is, how vam and empty are all his pursuits, &c. ; so the LXX, 
MUi iyywoBvi o sanv avdpwro^ 


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112 NOTES. [chap VII* 

which the Orientals used so lavishly, and which, in the suRiy 
regions of the East, are most grateful and refretdiing. The para- 
nomasia in this verse, and in verses 5 and 6, is very striking, and 
gives great elegance to the original. 

— and ike day, &c]— That ** the day of death is better than 
the day of one's birth," as a general proposition, is, in spite of aO 
the labour and ingenuity of the expositors, a censure upon God 
for creating man. As such a sentiment could never proceed 
frmn the pious king of Israel, it must be understood in conne;doii 
with the former hemistich, and the observation must be referred 
to those persons alone who have ** a good name,'' or character, 
in consequence of a virtuous and honourable conduct Of such 
it is true, that the day of their death is better than the day of 
THEIR birth, inasmuch as they escape from a world of toil and 
vanity; leave a name honoured by their children, respected by 
all ; and enter upon the inheritance of a better life. — ^It will come 
to the same thmg if we suppose an ellipsis of ** for a man" (can^^) 
in the first part of the verse, and refer to it the pronomial affix in 
the second; that is, ** A good name is better ^br «ffta»d»n 
predous ointment, and the day of h%$ death than the day of his 

2. It is better to go, &c.] — ^This section, though it may not at 
first sight appear so, conduces to the Preacher's design of 
eulogizing Wisdom; since affliction, by ameliorating the heart 
and disposition, tends to produce true, practical Wisdom in all, 
and, in regard to the wise in particular, it exalts their character by 
rendering their virtues more conspicuous. Common jsense re- 
quires us to understand this observation in a limited sense, either 
that it is better for those who have not acquired Wisdom to^ to 
the house of mourning than to the house of feasting, because 
they will perceive the real value of it 1^ so doing; or, generally, 
it is better, in regard to the real good of man, to be conversant 
with the sorrowing and afflicted than to mingle continuaHy wiA 
the gay and luxurious, because the house of mounnng tetichea 


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the most salutary lessons of Wisdom. In tins, or some siaiilar 
way it must be taken, as tlie Preacher has inculcated a cheerful 
contentment, and an innocent enjoyment of the bounties of 
Providence, ch. iii. 12, Id, y. 18—20. 

— fw that is the end of all men] — ^Something must be sup- 
plied in order to complete the sense^ as the expressions, ** for that 
18 the end of all men," convey no determinate meaning. Some 
verb of teaching, admonishmg, Sec. agrees best with the context; 
thus, the going to the house of mourning admonishes us of Ihe 
end which inevitably awaits all men. '' In ilia enim linis cuno- 
torum admonetur hominum," Vulgate ; '<in illafinem conspicimus 
omnium l^ominum," Dathe; so Bauer, in his Scholia. 

3. Sorrow is better, &c.] — ** That sorrow which arises from the 
meditation of death, a sad, sober, composed temper of mind, 
by which a man is rendered capable of instruction, and sensible 
of serious concerns, is better, and more salutary in its effects 
than laughter, and all the intemperate conviviality of sumptuous 
feasts." — (Bishop Reynolds in loc,) ** Laughter" here signifies 
the same as in ch. ii. 2, where see the note. — See Critical Note (*.) 

6. For as the crackling, &c.] — As by " the song of foob," in 
the former verse, is meant the music and clamours prevailing in 
their compotafions ; so, by ^' the laughter of fools" in this, is 
meant their noisy merriment adid revelHngs, which, like the sud* 
^en, crackling flame of thorns, though ardent for a time, are soon 
over, without kavidg any thing solid or profitable- behind. Cow 

♦ All the ancient Vetsklns render oya by " anger ;^ but the 
latter hemistich shoWs thkt in this ^application It* means' sorrow, 
as in ch.i. 18. TheTargum is to this effect :^^Belfer is the 
anger of the hotd of the universe against die righteoiis in this 
world, than his derision' at the wibked.^' 



114 NOTES. [chap. -VII, 

dmif dried was die fiid commonly used in Palestioey and Mr. 
Hanner thinks '* its extreme slowness m burning must make the 
quidoiess of the fire of thorns very observable, and gi?e a lire- 
liness to this passage." — Mtervatiims, yol. i. p. 458. See also 
Burder, OriaUal CutUmu, No. 633. 

7. Siirefy cppreitum, ^.]--The Preacher still continues die 
argument on the advantage of affliction, and asserts in this yerse 
that oppression,, of all things the most galling to a generous 
mind, serves only to render a wise man more Ulustrious, by the 
magnanimity with which he bears it, or the prudent resolution 
widi which he resists it. — See Critical Note (*.) 

— nmd a ^ft^]— Thoujgfa it is certain that gifts destroy, that is, 
corrupt die hearts of those in power, (Exod. xziii. 8 ; Deut xvL 
19,) yet the antithesis shows that ** gift" here means die gifts of 
fortune, namely, prosperity and worldly advantages. While op- 
pressions serve only to render a wise man illustrious, by displaying 
the energies of his mind, prosperity, which is the gift of fortune, 
tends to corrupt die heart. I here use the word fortune in a 
pedlar sense, widiout intending to exclude the providence of a 
Supreme Being. ' 

* The standard translation is, ** Surely oppression mdLeth a 
a wise man mad,'' which, though pardy supported by the ancicDt 
vmrions, cahnot be right; for it is neidier in character, nor con- 
mtent with the scope of the discourse, for Solomon to say, that 
a wise man is, by any adventitious circumstance, made mad. It 
is, therefore, best to understand ^^in^by ^' gives lustre," '^ adds 
q^endour ;" a sense it very well admits, as is shown in the Critical 
Note to di. i. 17, and which b adopted by Desvoeux, van d^ 
Palm, Doederlein, and Dathe. Boothroyd, to the same sense, 
renders it, " Oppression maketh a wise man to be praised." See 
abo Greenaway, New Transl. P. ii. p. 23. 


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8. Better u the end of a thing\ — Not generally of any thing, 
but of the thing spoken of in the preceding verse, namely, <^ 
pression. So far is oppression from being injurious, that, what- 
ever distress it may at first occasion, it is in the end beneficial; 
for patience of spirit, which is the effect of affliction, is preferable 
to pride of spirit, which too commonly results from prosperity. 
In the former verse oppression is described as it affects a wise 
man in the opinion of others, in this as it affects himself; in the 
first case it is said to render him illustrious in the eyes of men, 
in the other to produce the virtues of fortitude and patience 
in his own heart. — See Critical Note (*.) 

9. Be not hasty ^ &c.] — This and the following verse contain 
an admonition naturally resulting from the foregoing observations. 
To praise the past, and to be murmuring at the present times, is 
the common humour of mankind, many instances of which are 
enumerated by Bulkley, (Notes en the Bible ^ in loc.,) and, as such 
complaints are often groundless, they are justly censured by the 

* Though the word nil is without the article, it certainly refers 
to ** oppression," spoken of in verse 7 : ** Better b the end of 
THE THING," i. 6. of oppression. The ancient versions, how- 
ever, excepting perhaps the Syriac and Targum, take ni"i ia the 
sense of %Din'df and render it, agreeably to the Vulgate, ** Melior 
est finis orationis quam principium ;" so Le Clerc, Grotius, and 
Gousset, who explain it of strife and contention. Others, tald^ 
it in the sense of res, negotium, render it, with £. T., ** Better k 
the end of a thing than the beginning," and endeavour to defend 
it as a general truth, but, as appears to me, very unsuccessfidly. 
Though it might be better, perhaps, to render ni*i definitely^' the 
thing," than indefinitely ** a thing," it is not necessary to depart 
fi'om the received translation, which, according to the ezplicafiOB 
given m the Paraphrase and note, yields an excellent sense/ and 
perfectly agreeable to the subject of this section. 
G G 


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116 NOTES. [chap. VII. 

11. — to tkem tkmi 9ee the nm\ — This cannot, as some suppose, 
^bnote those who are in prosperity; for it would be absurd to say, 
** Wisdom is as good as an inheritance to the prosperous." But, 
as the former hemistich is an universal truth, tiiis must denote 
aD mankind mdiscriminately.— See Criticai Note (*.) 

1% m drfmee] — literaDy, " in shadow;" and because under 
this image shortness of duration b conveyed, (ch yL 12, viii. 13,) 
▼an der Pafan thinks the meaning is, that although wisdom, hke 
BKmey, is fleeting as a shadow, yet Ihe excellency of knowledge 
is that it gives eternal life to them diat have it; (Dm. de Lik. 
Eeele$. p. 71 ;) but the exposition in the Paraphrase is preferable, 
as ** shadow,'' in Scripture language, often means a defence, 
Gen. six. 8; Numb. xiv. i; Psalm xriL 8, Ivii. 2, bd. 3, xcL 1; 
Isaiah xvL 12, xxx. 2, 3, xlix. 2. 

— ^vHk Ufe] — ^As this expression, in die sense of preserving 
from danger, protectbg from harm, would be a mere tautology 

* The received version is, ** Wisdom is good with an in- 
heritance," which, being sanctioned by the LXX, Vvlgate, and 
Targum, may perhaps be admissible, since the observation it 
contains is true; but I have adopted the marginal traosls^on of 
B. T., which also agrees with Geier, Sdmiidt, Durell, Noldiot 
m fSjf and Not. 1880. Dathe and Bauer, after Doedeiiera, 
translate it ** Bona est sapientia in rebus afflictis ;" and, for their 
authority in thus rendering nhni D2^, refer to Isaiah xviL 11 ; 
Jer. X. 19, xiv. 17. According to Bishop Lowth, Isaiah does 
Bot support Dathe; but see RosennHiller, Scholia in loc. : and in 
Jbrenaah rfmi is deariy a verb in Niph., from n^ ; nor can I 
find any passage where nhni, as a noun, can be the derivative of 
nVn mgrotami. It oecimi frequently, and always, as ihe context 
■hows, in ihe sense of inherUanee, or poaemomf and so it is 
w ad offo d in the ancient versions. Dane's translation, therefore^ 
cannot be admitled* 


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with the former hemistich, it is probably intended to denote the 
producing a state of serene cheerfulness and calm satisfactioBy 
which may emphatioally be called '* giving life/' and which 
Wisdom, or Religion, can alone effect. 

13. Consider, <&c.] — ^The meaning of this verse is sufficiently 
plain, but it is difficult to discover its connexion. It may be a 
pons reflection upon the immutable decrees of God, thrown in 
parenthetically, though I am inclined to take it in connexion with 
what goes before and follows, and to understand it as in the 

14. that man should Jind nathmg after ^m] — ^The original may 
be rendered either ** that man might find nothing against him, 
i. e. God;" or, *' that man might find nothing after him," t. e* 
not, as it is sometimes explained, that man may not foresee what 
may befall him in future, but that man might not find any thing 
to blame, after considering God's work, (verse 13,) or any cause 
to impeach the justice and goodness of tiie Divine proceedings 
towards mankind. — See Critical Mote (*.) 

* There is certainly an ambiguity in vnnM, which may be ren- 
dered ** against him" as well as '' after him." — (See Durell tn loe*; 
NoMitts in nnH, 6; Poli Si^op. in loc; and an admirable Sermon, 
by Bishop Bidl, in his English Works.) The renderrag of the 
Vdlgate is, ^* ut non inveniant contra eum justas quserimonias;" 
and of Symmachus, rav fiti evpetv aydptairoy car' avrov fufjoj/iv. In 
the Syriac there is the same ambiguity as the Hebrew, for 
Oijb^JSl. may mean either *' after him" or *' against him." The 
LXX also is not free firom ambiguity, but probably agrees 
' with the version of Symmachus. Though I have not ventured to 
alter llie authorized version, T am justified m the explanation 
given in the Paraphrase and note. 


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118 NOTES. [chap. VII, 

15. AU ikmg$f &c.] — Of this and a few following yenes I bare 
met with no satisfactory explanation, nor dare 1 flatter myself 
that the one here submitted to the reader will be generally ap- 
proved; but, in my judgment, it will elucidate tiiem, if Solomon 
be considered as stating an objection in verses 15, 16, to which 
he afterwards returns an answer. Notwithstanding ihe high 
encomium on Wisdom, (verses 11 — 14,) the fool scoffingly 
olgects, diat the righteous, who are reputed wise, often peridi in 
their righteousness, while the wicked as often live long in their 
widcedness; die inference from which b. Strive not to become 
exceedingly virtuous and wise; for why should a man waste 
himself away in pursuit of wisdom and virtue, which seem to be 
attended with no advantage over vice and folly ? This interpreta- 
tion accords with the usual signification of the words, and agrees 
with the context and the scope of the whole discourse. — See 
Critical Note (* ) 

* The words nmn and nnv denote exeeedingbf, wntHwm 
abundi. — (See Simonis, Lex. Heb. ed. Eichhom.) The reader 
will find a learned note on these verses in Hackspan, Noi4B 
PhiloL voL iL p. 472, who refers the former to a particular branch 
of righteousness, namely, judicial; but, diough others are of the 
same opinion, as Pfeiffer, (Dubia Vexaia, in loc.,) there is nothing 
in the context to limit it in thb way. Schuttens, (De Defect, 
Ling. H«h. § 226,) taking the sense of pnv from the Arabic, ren- 
ders it ** be not too rigid or inflexible f a rendering approved by 
Gerard (hutiUUei of Bibl Crii. § 214) and oUiers; but diis 
sense is unsupported by Biblical usage. Dr. Paley, in one of 
his SermoH$9 thinks it denotes an external affectation of righteous- 
ness, not prompted by internal principle; in like manner as the 
caution, '< be not over-wise,'' respects the ostentation of wisdom, 
and not the attainment itself. But these, and all other inter- 
pretations I have met with, appear to me strained and far-fetched, 
whereas that which I have adopted in the Parq>hrase is natural 
and unforced. 


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17- Be not exceedingly uHcked, &c.] — Here the answer to the 
objectioii begins by showing the value of Wisdom. Instead of 
the objector's inference, the Preacher replies, it should rather be 
said, ^* Be not exceedingly wicked, neither be thou foolish ; for 
^rhy shouldest thou> die before thy time?" That is, accelerate 
not thy death by calling down, through thy criminal conduct, the 
punishment of the violated laws, and the vengeance of offended 
Heaven. He then subjoins a variety of arguments to show 
the excellence of Wisdom, which extend as far as ch. viii. 7. 

18. ofthU—fi'om this] — It is ambiguous to what these relatives 
refer, and, of course, the commentators are divided. It seems 
most probable, that the first refers to the precept in verse 17, and 
the second to the maxim in the latter part of this verse; conse- 
quently the particle o, in the last clause, is better translated *' that'' 
than "for." 

— came forth of them all] — ^This may refer to the evils of 
casting himself away, and dying before his time, mentioned in 
▼erses 16 and 17; but the sense appears to me to be as given in 
the Paraphrase. If it be thought an objection to this interpre- 
tation, that only two evils are mentioned, which can hardly be 
called " them all," the answer is easy, that the same word " all," 
ho, is applied to no more than two chap. ii. 14. The exposition 
m the Piuttphrase, therefore, is to be preferred. 

19. Wisdom strengtheneth, &c.]— Either wisdom gives a man 
more honour and influence than falls to the share of ten governors, 
or rather, is a better protection to him than ten governors watch- 
ing for his safety. 

20. Although there is not, &c.]— -This may be connected with 
the following verse, viz. *' Because there is not a just man upon 
earth, that doeth good, and sini^eth not, therefore it is also the 
part of wisdom to take no heed unto all words," &Cp But as the 


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120 NOTES. [chap. VII. 

word *^ akoy" oa, in verse 21, seems to oppose Uus coBaexioOy 
aad verses 21 and 22 form ib themselves a distiiicl sentimeiit, I 
prefer coonectbg verses 19 and 20 togeUier ; and the general 
sense, when so united, is, that althongh Wisdom can only be 
imperfectly attained in this world, yet it gives more real power 
than rank and station. Here is a direct confession that man is 
in a Allien state. 

21. Abo take no heed, &c.] — An adnumition naturally resnltiDg 
from the preceding remark concerning the universal frailty and 
imperfection of man. 

23. AU ihu, &c.] — From this verse to the end of ^ chapter 
Ihe Preacher speaks of Inmself and hb 0¥m wisdom. He begins 
with assertmg the truth of what he had said concerning the ex- 
cellency of Wisdom, in consequence of which he determined to 
become wise, (verse 23 ;) at the same time he acknowledges the 
imperfection of his attainments, and the impossibility of acqpmkig 
Wisdom in perfection, (yet. 24 ;) yet he applied his miikl cfiligen%^ 
in the search of it, (verse 25,) and mentions, as the result of Ins 
inquiries, &at the allurements of an abandoned woman are fatally 
destructive, (verse 26 ;) that none are perfectly wise and virtuous, 
(verses 27, 28 ;) and that man has isllen from his primeval stale 
of innocence, (verse 29.) Thos it appears to be the Preacher's 
design, in this passage, to show the value of True Wisdom eves 
when, through the weakness of the human mind, it is only imper- 
fectly attained. 

— it was far from me] — Not wholly so; for this would not 
be compatible with the account of Solomon's wisdom 1 Kings 
iii. 5—14, iv. 29; but the meaning is, that he could not attain 
wisdcnn in perfection. ** It is the nature of spiritual wisdom to 
discover spiritual wants, and the more the soul knows of God, 
the greater does it discern and bewaU its distance frma him.*' 
— Bishop Re3rnolds in loc. 


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26. nffooliiknem and tMocbtetf]— That h, by a metonomy of 
die cause for the effect, all that the folly and madness of men so 
eageily pursue. — See Critical Note (*.) 

26. And I find mmrt hitter^ &c.] — I can by no means agree 
with those who suppose that sin, or folly, or concupiscence, are 
here represented under the image of a female. — (See St Jerom 
tfi loe.; Dathe; and Michaelis, Not. Uber, inloc.) It should 

♦ The word jntt^n occurs three times, in this place, in verse 27, 
and in ch. ix. 10, and is rendered in £. T. by three different 
words. The root att^n is of frequent occurrence, and denotes 
almost any operation of the reasoning faculty; of course the 
derivatives denote something connected with these operations, 
as judgment, deliberation, computation, account, device, thought. 
It seems to mean, in this verse, a decision, or conclusion made 
after deliberation; that is, the Preacher endeavoured to seek out 
Wisdom, and what decision or judgment should be made con* 
ceming things. This explanation is supported by the ancient 
versions. The Vulgate renders it by ^* ratio;" the LXX by 
tf/)}^£ and Xoyifffiog ; Aquila and Symmachus by Xoyco'ftoc ; and 
die Syriac by derivatives from c^ H m • Van der Palm, from 
the Arabic sense of the word, takes it to denote ^'rectam 
testimationem rerum,'' which comes nearly to the same thing as 
the explanation here adopted. — (See Houbigant, and Schul2 et 
Bauer, Scholia in loc.) The word ni^^in, according to the ex- 
planation of the root in the Critical Note to ch. i. 17, may denote . 
ihingt splendid^ as it b understood here by Desvoeux and Dathe. 
There appears, however, no reason for departing from the re- 
ceived signification, which yields an apposite sense, is analogi- 
cally deduced, and, if not clearly supported by the ancient 
versions, is certainly not opposed by them. Yet, retaining the 
traditionary sense, the last clause may be more literally ren- 
dered, ^' to know the wickedness of folly, and the foolishness 
of madness.^ 


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lather seem, that the royal sage delivers, in this verse, the result 
of his inquiries into the wickedness of folly, and the foolishness 
of madness, in the instance of hariot beauty; and, in bold meta- 
phorical language, describes the vileness of the wanton who, by 
all the arts of captivation, allures the unsuspecting into her 
snares. Solomon has frequently painted the wiles, and cautioned 
youth against the dangers, of meretricious charms.— (Prov. ii. 16, 
V. 2, vi. 24, vii. 25, xxiL 14.) Burder quotes a passage from 
Thevenot, which he thinks gives a very lively comment upon this 
verse. ** The most cunning robbers in the world are in this 
coimtry. They use a certain slip with a running noose, which 
they cast with so much sleight about a man's neck, when they 
are within reach of him, that they never fail, so that they strangle 
him in a trice. Tliey have another curious trick abo to catch 
travellers. They send out a handsome woman upon the road, 
who, with her hair dishevelled, seems to be all in tears; sighing, 
and complaining of some misfortune which she pretends has 
befallen her. Now, as she takes the same way as the traveller 
goes, he easily falls into conversation with her, and finding her 
l>eauttful, offers her his assistance, which she accepts ; but he 
hath no sooner taken her up on horseback behind him, but she 
throws the snare about his neck and strangles him, or at least 
stuns him, until the robbers, who lie hid, come running in to her 
assistance, and complete what she hath begun." — (Oriental Cus* 
tarns, No. 634.) I cannot think that Solomon alluded to this 
custom, of the existence of which, in his age, there is no proof; 
and the expressions aptly portray the artful inveiglements of a 
wanton and dissolute woman. — See Critical Note (*.) 

♦ The pronoun «m, in oniVD «»n ntt^K, is, as Durell remarks, 
emphatical. This clause is rendered by Desvoeux, ** who her- 
self b a company of hunters,'' which is altogether unwarrantable, 
as the received signification oi tivd, a mare, yields a good sense, 
perfecdy well adapted to the context, and supported by the 
ancient versions; nor is there any reason to suppose that it ever 


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27. Behold, thU have I found} — Namely, this destructive 
nature of the wauton's artifices above, — See Critical Mote (*.) 

28. What yet my ioul ieeketh]—The ATulgate, LXX, E. T., 
Szc. connect this with the preceding verse, which produces the 
contradiction of saying, that the Preacher had not found what 
before he asserted to have found. It is, therefore, better to con- 
sider *imt^, with which the verse commences, as a pronoun 
relative referring to that which follows, namely, ** one man among 
a thousand have I found, but a woman among all these have I 
not found." Here the terms ** man" and *' woman^ seem to be 
used, in an emphatical sense, for those who, by their wisdom and 
virtue, are alone worthy of this appellation. The meaning, there- 
fore, is : A truly virtuous character, which he sought for, he could 
not find; though he had indeed found one man among a thousand, 
who was comparatively wise and virtuous, worthy of the name of 
man ; but a truly virtuous woman he had still seldomer found : 
not that a female of such a character did not exist, but that it is 
scarcely possible to find one in a thousand. It is supposed by 

denotes any thing else than the net or snare of the hunter, and 
a military engine. — (See ch. ix. 14, and notes there.) Our trans- 
lation gives the general sense, but the origiaal may be more 
literally rendered, ** I find more bitter than death is the woman, 
wrho herself is snares, whose heart is nets, and whose hands are 
bands," &c. 

* I understand |Ut2^n to mean a judgment, or conclunon formed 
after deliberation, as in verse 25; and the elliptical expression 
nn«^ in«, literally, " one by one," or " one thing to one thing," 
is properly supplied as in the version, namely, '* by comparing 
one thing with another." The version of van der Palm, approved 
by Bauer, '* alias mulieres aliis addendo," appears perfectiy 
H H 


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124 I^OTES. [chap. VII. 

some, that as Solomon had three hundred wives and seyen 
hundred concubmeSy he here aDodes to them, and asserts that he 
had not found, among all this thousand, one really good and vir- 
tuous woman* This is veiy probable ; at any rate the expressions 
must be understood in a qualified sense; for it cannot be thought 
diat it was die intention of Solomon to condemn the whole sex, 
upon the better part of whom he has lavished the highest en- 
comiumn. — (Prov. xii. 4, xix. 14, xxxL 10.) We are not to 
interpret titeraUy phrases tbctured widi Oriental hyperbole. It 
is obaervaUCf diat Mohammed used to say, that among men 
diere were many perfect, but among women only four, Asiah, the 
wife of Pharaoh; Mary, the mother of Christ; CadijsA, his 
wife, and Fatima, his daughter. — Pocock, Specimen Hist. 
Arab. p. 188, ed. White, Oxon. 1806; Prideaux, Life ^ of 
Mohamet, p. 61. 

20* Lo» this only have I finmd\ — ^These expressions must be 
limited, as in the Paraphrase, or they will make die author con- 
tradict himself; for he asserts, in verse 17^ that he had found a 
certain other matter, and in verse 28 that he had found a com- 
paratively wise man among a thousand. — See Critical Note (*•) 

* The contradiction of saying ** this only have I found," when 
he asserts that he had found some odier things, in verse 27 and 
28, is avoided in the versions of Le Clerc and Desvoeux in 
die following manner: ** Hoc tantum considera," ** lliis only 
observe, I have found," &c.; but it is improbaUe that the 
Preacher would exhort his readers to observe only this one Uiing. 
May not ni^, however, be here an illative, ^kr^Aermoy^, ako^ &c 
diough I acknowledge it may be doubted whether anodier ex- 
ample of this sense can be found ? The LXX have irXiyv liU rovro 
ivpoy* — ^The paralleUsm leads us to the sense of niJatt^n, only 
occurring here and 2 Chron. xxvi. 15, where it denotes some 
warlike machine; for being opposed to ^m% upright, it must 


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1. the mterpretaium of a thing] — ^Thc sense is, Who like the 
wise man can explain difficult and abstruse matters ? The praise 
of lYisdom is still continued. 

— a man*8 wisdom maketk his face to shine] — ^Thftt is, makes 
it pleasant and agreeable. It is certainly true, that Wisdom and 
morsd goodness give to the countenatice those traits of intel- 
ligence, that modest and amiable look, that nameloss but pre- 
possessing grace, the indication of a virtuous soul, which com- 
mand the esteem of every beholder. — See Critical Note (*.) 

evideiitly mean the contrary, that which is not upright, crooked, 
perverse. Men have given into many perverse inventions, pur- 
poses, and devices, quite contrary to the original righteousness 
in which they were created. Here is undoubtedly an allusion to 
the fall of Adam and Eve. 

* Though *)tt^D oc(iurs nowhere else in Hebrew, it is properly 
rendered in £. T. by ^< interpretation," as this signification agrees 
with the cimtexi, is supported by the ancient versions, and by the 
corresponding words in Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic. — (See the 
Lex. of Cocceius and Castell.) The phrase »jd ty properly means 
impudence efface, as appears from comparing Prov. vii. 13, 
nd. 29; Deut. xxviii. 50; Dan. viii. 23; but in this verse it 
evidently denotes harsh, austere, and forbidding looks. The 
clause is rendered by Desvoeux, ** a sullen look would make him 
an object of hatred ;" by Hodgson, '* austerity in the looks is 
hatefiol ;** and to thia effect Doederlein, van der Palm, and some 
in Poli Synop. Others render it " gives boldness to his face/' — 
(^ier, Daliie, Boothroyd.) Instead of the textual reading Mm^, 
the Keri and some other MSS. have nim^, shall be changed; but 
the LXX and Syriac favour the former. 


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126 NOTE*. [chap. VIII. 

2. leomuel tkee] — ^The ellipsis in ^e ori^al is best supplied 
as in the authorized version here adopted. Though by " the 
kingf may be understood the temporal king, the context, and 
particularly yerses 3 and 4, seem to prove that Jehovah is meant, 
who was peculiarly the King of the Israelites. St. Jerom and 
^e Chaldee paraphrast understood it of God. 

— the oaik of God] — ^If the former part of the verse be ex- 
pltuned of obedience to prince^ and magistrates, this may mean 
the oath of fidelity which was taken towards them. But if ** the 
kmg,'' m the former hemistich, mean " the King Jehovah," as I 
am persuaded it does, the oa^ must refer to the covenant which 
God made with Abraham, and which was confirmed by an oath. 
Hence the meaning is, I counsel ^ee to keep ^e commandments 
of Jehovah ** in regard to the oa^ of God," that is, on account 
of the obligation imposed upon thee by God's covenant vdth 
Abraham to make the Jews his peculiar people. 

3. Be not hoiiy, &c.] — ^Those who explain the former verse 
of obedience to princes, consider this as an admonition against 
disobeying their authority ; so that hasting out of ^e king's pre- 
sence implies the rejecting of obedience, or, in o^er words, the 
breaking out into rebellion. I prefer interpretmg it in reference 
to God, according to ^e view exhibited in the Paraphrase. 

4. Where the word, &c.] — ^This verse also I refer to the King 
Jehovah; and the sense is, No man's sin will escape the 
vengeance of God^ for no one can control his power* TMs 
exposition is confirmed by the latter part of the vei«e, ** who 
may say unto him. What doest thou?" which cannot be strict^ 
affirmed of princes, but which may well be attributed to Qod, 
who doeth wl^atsoever he pleaseth, bo^ in leaven and in eaith, 

5. Whoso keepeth, &c.] — ^This and the two following verses 
are referred by many conunentators to man's duty towards his 
sovereign; but as they clearly form a part of the foregoing 

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CHAP. VIII.] NOfES. 127 

argument, they are l^etter explaiiied in reference to man's duty to 
God. Our translators have destroyed the couoexion by rendering 
the particle *3, ki, by " therefore" and *' for** in the sixth and 
seventh verses, as it is there used in an adversative, not casual 
sense. The interpretation in the Paraphrase is easy, unforced, 
and accordant wi^ the Preacher's argument ; yet these three 
verses may be referred to God, and understood in reference to 
the Mosaic dispensation, which was built upon temporal sanctions. 
Thus, ^' Whoso keepeth the commandment of God shaU feel no 
evil thing under ^e equitable government of the Theocracy; and 
a wise man*s heart dUcemeth both the time and judgment, that is, 
the time or season of God's righteous judgment in^e distribution 
of temporal rewards and punishments; because to every purpose 
of God there is a fixed time and judgment, or manner for their 
taking effect ; and though the misery of man is great upon him 
at present; and though he knoweth not that which shall be; for 
who can tell him when it shall be ? yet is he firmly persuaded 
that the rigfiteous will, in the end, be rewarded, and the wicked 

8. There is no man that, &c.] — In tins section the Preacher 
adverts to another argument in recommendation of Wisdom, 
derived from the bad effects of sin. Wickedness, says he, 
cannot protect any man from the shafb of death, (verse 8 ;) not 
even the power of the most despotic can either shield themselves 
from the stroke of fate, or their memories from oblivion, (verses 
9, 10;) and, in short, vice, in all ranks and degrees, is so far from 
contributing to any real good, that it will ultimately be punished; 
while it will be well with those who reverence God, (verses 
11 — 13.) If, then, the folly and misery of wickedness be great, 
it clearly follows, that virtue, on the contrary, must be attended 
widi inestimable benefits; a consideration which sufficientiy 
recommends Wisdom, or Keligion, to the attention of mankind. 

— there is no discharge] — ^That is, there are no mean^ 
whereby we can prevail in our war with death; there is no 


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128 NOTES. [chap. VIII. 

esoneralion from the stroke of thb kbg of terrors. — See Critical 

0. AU ihi$9 &C.] — HaTing observed just before, that wk^ed- 
nesii cannol exempt its perpetrators from the sting of death, 
Solomon here instances it in the case of unjust and tyrannical 
goyemois. The clause ** and I applied my heart unto erery 
work that is done under the sun" is evidently parenthetical. 

— nUeth'l'-^Bj ** ruling" here cannot be meant a just and 
legitiqiate government, for that is neither to the hurt of the mler 
nor of the ruled; it must, therefore, denote, to rule despotically, 
to exercise arbitrary power. — See Critical Note (f.) 

* It would, perhaps, be better to follow CastaUo, Desvoeux, 
van der Palm, Boothroyd, Wemyss, Doederiein, and Dathe» in 
translating nn by " wind,'' rather than '' spirit 'fi because tfiere 
seems to be a comparison, that as a man has no power over die 
wind, so has he none in the day of death. — ^The word nnVvo 
only occurs here and Psalm Ixxvui. 49, where it means a sendmg ; 
and in the place before us it seems to have a signification aBied 
to this, t. e, a sending aunty , a discharge. This sense, naturally 
resulting from the acknowledged meaning of n^t^, is suitable to 
the context, and is supported by jthe LXX, Vulgate, and Syriac; 
it is, therefore, unneccessary to depart from the received trans- 
lation of the term, though it may admit other s^;nificatioii8 
derivable from its root. 

t The words if? jfih may either refer to siMn, lAe man rmUmg, 
ortosntia, the mum ruled over; but though I have induded 
both in the Paraphrase, I have little hesitation in preferring the 
latter, for Solomon's design is not to say that there is a time 
wherein one man tyrannizes over others '' to his own hurt," but 
** to their hurt" who are subjected to his tyranny. So LXX, 


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10. And so I saw, Sic] — To enumerate . the various explica- 
tions of this intricate verse would exceed the limits of a note ; 
but, amidst all the discordancy of commentators, one thing 
Af^pears certain from the scope of the passage, that it ought to be 
taken in connexion wi^ the foregoing verse. Hence '^the 
wicked'' does not mean the unrighteous in general, but the 
unjust rulers spoken of in verse 9. If it be objected, that in 
Terse 9 one person only is mentioned, and in this the wicked in 
the plural, it may be replied, that the *' one man who ruleth,'' 
e>^t2^ oni^n, is most likely put for the whole race of those who 
rule of^ressively, from the highest to the lowest order of magis- 
trates; and their power to hurt is only for a time, for Solomon 
declares that he had seen such wicked buried and completely 

— the /place of the holy] — ^The palace, according to some, 
the residence of kings and exalted personages; but by this 
expression may ra^er be meant the tribunal of judgment, tiie 
places of judicature ; and by " coming and going from ^em," 
the pomp and ceremony used in the administration of the duties 
belonging to them. If the original may be rendered *' the holy 
place," (by which is sometimes meant Heaven, sometimes the 
Temple, and sometimes Jerusalem. — See Cruden's ConeordoMce 
in voc»,) the Paraphrase must be differently modified, but the 
result will be the same, namely, that Solomon had seen the 
wicked rulers buried, speedily come to an end, and forgotten. 
Doed^ein and van der Palm, without any adequate grounds, 
suppose ** the holy place" denotes the grave or sepuldure. 

.11. Because sentence^ <&c.]— A reason, as some think, is here 
assigned wliy wicked ^ rulers p^severe in their tyranny and 

Tov KOKtaffai^avrov; and the Syriac, as property translatecUn the 
Pdyglott, is '*utnoceret ei," i.e. the man who b ruled; but 
Symmachus has ecc kokov uvtov, and Vulgate, *' in malum suum." 


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130 NOTES. [chap. VIII. 

oppression ; but, if I am not mislakeny the Preacher now glances 
to the evil of sin in general, in aD ranks of life ; and the sobstance 
of Terses 11 — ^13 b, that the evil effects of wickedness are 
certain, though not always immediate ; and because punishment 
does not always instantly follow an evil work, men are oft, by 
this circumstance, encouraged to sin the more ; neverthelesft the 
sinner, whateyer temporary delay there may be, will certainly in 
the end be punished, while it will ultimately be well wi^ tlioae 
who reyerence Ood, and stand in awe of offending him. Hie 
inference, though not stated, is most evident, that vrisdom, which 
is the opposite of vnckedness, must be of the highest use and 
advantage to man. 

13. — which ihall bea$a shadow]— The meaning according to 
some is, " neither shall he prolong his days as a shadoiiv,'' 
which lengthens as the sun declines: an admissible sense, 
undoubtedly ; but as life, by reason of its shortness and iotstabi- 
lity, is compared to a shadow, chap. vi. 12; 1 Chron. xxix. 16; 
Job viiL 9; Ps. ciL 11, cix. 23, cxliv. 4; and as the argument-is, 
diat the sinner^s days, though they may appear to be prolonged, 
shall not in reafity be so, I think the sense is, that the sinner's 
days shall be short and fleeting as a shadow. The standard 
translation, ** which are as a shadow," is cleariy erroneous, as 
the Preacher is not describing what the wicked man's dajrs are, 
but what ^ey shall be. 

14. There is a vanity, &c] — Solomon cannot be delivering his 
own sentiments in verses 14 and 15, for they contradict what he 
had just before, and in other places, asserted concemmg the 
ultimate distioction that will be made between the good and the 
bad. He does, indeed, acknowledge that one event, deatfi, 
happens equally to the righteous and the wicked, chap. ii. 14, 
iiL 20, ix. 2, from which may be inferred the vanity of all woridly 
things;* but he as decisively declares, that, in the end they will 
meet with a very different reward, chap. iii. 17 — ^21, v. 8, vii. 18, 
viii. 11, 12, 13. This passage must, therefore, be considered as 


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containing an objection^ which the royal Preacher puts into the 
mouth of a foohsh and wicked man, who thus cayils, ^' Not- 
withstanding the argument produced against wickedness^ that it 
incurs the vengeance of retributive justice, several circumstances 
indicate that Ood is either indifferent tb it» or will not punish it; 
else, how comes it to pass that it often happens to the Just accord- 
ing to the work of the wicked, and to the wicked according to 
the work of the righteous ? Does not this imply that Gk>d makes 
no distinction between virtue and vice ? And if such be the case, 
it is best to indulge every passion, and to grasp every passing 
pleasure, sinc^ this is the greatest good a man can obtain from 
his labours all the days of his life.'^ This objection nearly 
resembles that in chap. vii. 15, only this is levelled more imme- 
diately against wisdom and virtue, and the former against a 
superintending Providence. Cavils like these would, no doubts 
be often raised by the sceptical and dissolute among the Israehtes, 
who, according to the principles of the Mosaic covenant, were 
taught to expect a temporal retribution ; for we find even somo 
of the most eminently pious Jews occasionally perplexed with 
the seeming inequalities in the distribution of rewards and punish- 
ments. — (See PreL Dis, to Prov, p. 46, et seq.) It would have 
been seen immediately that tlus is an objection put into the 
mouth of a worldling, had our translators rendered the last 
clause in verse 14, and the first in verse 15, in the present time, 
" 1 say that this also is vanity," ** Then I commend mirth," 
instead of ** I said," '* I commended." ^ 

— / say that thU also is vanity]— As Solomon had condemned 
all the worldling's pursuits as vanity, there is a peculiar force 
and propriety in representing him in return as so denominating 
the distinction between virtue and vice. 

15. — that shall abide with Aim]— See Critical Note (*.) 

* The word iii^», from ni^, adhdesit, is literally " shall adhere 
to him," w " shall be joined to him," L e. that only can he gain. 
I I 


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132 NOTES. [chap. IX. 

16. When lappKed, Ac.]— To the above otijection Solomoa 
liere commences his reply, in which he affinns, that, when he 
applied his mind to observe the toils of man after tlie Sovereign 
Good, he did not terminate his inquiries there, but dso coutem- 
plated die works of God, and he found them inscrutable; (Bom. xi. 
8S;) and therefore, if tfiere are some seeming mequaHties in tlie 
Divine distributitfn of retributive justice, they should rather be 
ascribed to our ignorance of God's dealings with mankind, tiian 
employed as arguments against wisdom and virtue. Whatever 
apparent inconsistencies in the providential government of the 
world may perplex uS, we ought to acquiesce in the sovereignty 
of Him whose Judgments are past finding out, in the fuH confi- 
dence that strict justice, tempered with mercy, wiB ultimately foe 
observed ; far '' the righteous, the wise, and their works are in 
the hand of God;'' «id, as all things are in the power, and under 
tike direction, of Infinite Wisdom, love will be distributed to the 
virtuous, and hatred to the wicked, in the best way, thon^ 
pertiaps inscrutable to man's feeble inteUeet. 


1. For all tki$\ — Namely, the matters spoken of in the last 
verse of the eighth chapter, concerning the inscmtable nature of 
God's works. The original is, literally, " all this I gave to my 
heart ;'^ that is, I laid it up, or treasured it there. 

— to declare aU fA{«]--Namely, all that follows in dns verse. 
The Preacher kept in mind his observations upon the inscrutable 
nature of God's works, till by meditating upon them he was 

The Vulgate is, ^' hoc solum secum auferret;" so LXX, %ciac, 
Symmacfaius, and several among the moderns,— rSee Schidtens, 
Opera Minora, p. 860. 


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CHAP. IX.] NOTES^. 133 

enabled to declare, that God will distribute botk rewards and 
punishmeiits according to his just and soYereign will.-— See 
Critical Note (*.) 

— but man knowetk nothing, &c.]— Dr. Wells' Paraphrafte 
of the received versipn is, *' no man knows, or can knaw^ Qither 
the love or hatifed of God to them, by all that is before tbem^ 
t.e* btf what befab them visibbf,*' which agrees with the s^ase of 
the passage given in the Paraphrase ; but the original is, lit^ally^ 
** there is no man that knoweth aU ^at is before them*" u e. ma|i 
knoweth nothing of ^e future ; '' nihil omnino rerum futurarum 
homo novit/' Da^e ; so van der Palm, Bauer, &c. 1 suppose 
an ellipsis after '^ hatred,'' ntOtt^, to be supplied as in the version ; 
and 1 begin* the last clause with pM. So Drusius, Dathe, and 
the Syriac may be so pointed and understood. The absurd 
trifling of the Romanists and Calvinists upon ^is verse is com- 
pletely upset by the explanation adopted in this worli;. — S^ 
Pfeiffer, Dubia Vexata, in loc. 

* Though Taylor and Parkhurst give to /inn the sense of 
declaring, making plain, clear, or manifest, it may be doubted 
whether it is ever applied in this signification. Its primary 
meaning undoubtedly is to be, in a physical sense, pure, cleoTi 
bright, (Isaiah xlix. 2; Jer. iv. 11, h. 11;) hence, secondly, in « 
moral sense, to be pure or clean, to pwify^ (2 Sam. xxii. 27; 
Psalm xviii. 26, d(C.;) as no^ug can be prpnounced clean or 
pure without examination, it came to signify, thirdly^ to explore, 
ta discern, to prove, (Eccles. iii. 18;) and as that which is dis- 
cerned to be pure is the object of preference, it is used, fourthly, for 
to choose, to select, (Cant vi. 9; 1 Sam. xvii. 8; 1 Ghron. vii. 40, 
ix. 22, xvi. 41; Nehem. v. 18.) Such is the genealogy of the 
senses attached to the root n"0, as I am inclined to believe; but 
still, as it may have the sense of declaring, attributed to it by 
some lexicographers, I have not ventured to alter the authorized 
version into *' even to discern all Uii^." 


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134 NOTES. [chap IX. 

2. AU are aUke, &c.] — From tins to the tenth verse the royal 
Preacher appears not to deliver his own sentiments, but to state 
an objection against the cultivation of Wisdom, which, it is pro- 
bable, he may /have heard frpm the sensualists of his own time. 
He bad lumself acknowledged that death happens alike to aU» 
diap. ii. 14, iiL 20, at which the olgector may be supposed to 
catch, and to found upon it an argument ** ad hominem" to this 
effect: ** According to your ovm acknowledgment, death happens 
to all alike; why, therefore, should we be anxious to attain 
Wisdom, which cannot exempt men from that event ? Is it not 
better to enjoy whatever pleasures the present moment may 
supply, agreeably to the saying, * Let ts eat and drmk, for to- 
morrow we dief That this passage is an objection put mto 
tiie mouth of a foolish worl^Ding, may be collected fix>m verse 4, 
<< to him that is joined to all the living ^ere is hope, for a living 
dog is better ^an a dead lion," which can scarcely be spoken in 
the same character with chap. iv. 2, '' I praised the dead v^ch 
are already dead^ more than the hving which are yet alive." The 
same inference results from verses 6 and 6, ''the living know 
that they shall die, but the dead kno^ not any thing; nei^er 
have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is 
forgotten;" and from verse 10, *^ there is no work, nor device, 
nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest^ 
These cannot be the real sentiments of Solomon, for they con- 
tradict the immortality of the soul, intimated in other places of the 
discourse, chap. viii. 12, 13, xi. 9, xii. 6^ 14; and as verses 
2^— lOy inclusive, relate to one subject, they must be considered 
as an objection advanced by an Epicurean man of the world. 

— all are alike] — ^The literal meaning is, *• all as all," or " all 
like all ;** the sense of which seems to be, that all are aUke in 
the circumstance of death, the one event common to all. The 
received translation, ** all things come alike to all," cannot be 
right ; for neither the man of piety nor the man of pleasure would 
make such an assertion. Aflter the words '' to the good," the 
LXX, Syriac^ and Vulgate read ♦* and to the bad,'' plh^ ; and the 


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CHAP. IX.] NOTES. 135 

parallelism either requires its insertion, though not authorized by 
MSS., or the omission of ** to the good," iltD^, upon the authority 
of two MSS. Ken. The latter is approved by Dr. Roberts in Joe. 

— he that tweareth] — ^The antithesis shows, as the commen- 
tators observe, that by ** swearing^ here is meant rash and un- 
advised swearing. 

3. Yea aho, the heart, &c.] — According to most conmientators 
the sense b. Because all, whether good or bad, are alike in 
respect of death, ** the heart of the sons of men is full of evil," 
addicted to all kinds of wickedness, '' and madness is in their 
hearts while they live,'' namely, they pursue throughout life the 
works and labours which proceed from human madness and folly. 
In this sense it may undoubtedly be said, that ** the heart 
of the sons of men is fuU of evil, and madness is in their hearts 
while they live;" but such an observation is unsuitable to the 
character of a sensual worldling by whom the words are spoken. 
I therefore agree with Schmidt, who explains ** evil" to mean the 
^vil of calamity and grief, and " madness," the cares and per- 
turbations of the mind; according to which the meaning is, that 
all ate not only equally subject to death, but are also equally 
liable to suffer calamities, anxiety, and gri^. The word trans- 
lated " madness," it is true, in other places of the book, is used, 
by a metonymy of the cause for the effect, to denote the works 
and occupations' of madness ; (see Critical Note to chapter i. 
17;) but it here means that perturbation of mind, that maddening 
anguish, which is occasioned by the cares and misfortunes of the 

4. But to him that is joined]— The textual reading is, " who, 
or what shall be chosen?" i. e, is the condition of the living or the 
dead to be preferred? and this connects well with the former 
verse ; but the authorized version and several others follow the 
Keri, " to him that is jeined," &c. ; and as it is supported by 
some MSS. and all the ancient versions, it probably ought to be 


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136 NOTES. [chap. IX, 

adopted.-— (Se« Paikhiumt in nnx) Whichever of these readings 
he adopted, our traoslatora are wrong in rendering the particle o, 
ki,\jy ** for/' If the Keri be adopted, it should be rendered in 
an adversatiye sense, ** but," ** neyertheless ;" for this clause is 
not a reason for any thing preceding, but forms a proposition of 
which the reason is given in the second hemistich. It may be 
proper to mention, though I can by no means approve, the trans- 
lation which the learned Peters gives of this verse. '* For who 
is there that hopes be shall be associated to all the living ? (that 
is, after death,) nay but a living dog (say they) is better than a 
dead haa/'-^CrUical Diu. on Job, Pref. p. 82. 

— for a UvtM^ dog, &c]-* A proverbial expression, denoting 
the advantage of life above death. A lion is the noblest of 
beasts, Prov. xxx. 30, and a dog is metaphorically used in Scrip- 
ture for the .vilest of persons, 1 Sam. xxiv. 14; 2 Sam. ix. 8 ; 
2 Kings viii. 13; Matt xv. 26; PhiL iii. 2; Rev. xxiL 16. 

6. Alto their lov€, ^.]-^This may certainly be put metooyr 
mically for the objecto of their love, and hatred, and envy; but 
the connexion seems to require us to understand it of the anniiii- 
lation of the affections and faculties of the souL When, it is 
further added, ** niither.have they any more a portion for evi^^^ 
the meaning may be, either that they have no share in and no 
fruition of secular things; or rather, that they have no recom- 
pense, np advantage xfrom any thing which they have done vi4ule 
they remained in this life. 

7. Go thy way, <&c.]— It cannot be denied that verses 7^^3Lp 
may be so explained as to be perfectly consbtent with the 
Preacher's avowed sentiments concerning Wisdom; but when it 
b considered that they apparently contain the inference ftom the 
preceding observations,^ which are undoubtedly spoken in the 
character of an Epicurean objector, they are properly understood 
as uttered in the same character, and t|ierefore as recommending 

•sensual gratifications. 


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CHAP. IX.] NOTES. 137 

8. Let iky garmtnti he always wkUe] — White garments are 
most agreeable in hot ctinates, but are at the same time ^e raosH 
expensiye, as they are soon soiled, which prevents their being 
long worn. For these reasons they formed the distinguisldng 
dress of the opulent and great Our Saviour aDudes to the 
splendour of Solomon's apparel Matt. vi. 29$ and Josephus 
informs' us that tins monardi was usually closed in white, which, 
m all p#obability> was the royal colour^^iisilt^. libw viitv cap. 7; 
§ 3.) Moftlecai went out from the presence of the king in royal 
apparel «f blue and white ; (Esther viii. 16 )) and white raiment 
is mentioned as an honorary distasetioB in the ^ Apo<^alypsei 
(<^. iii. 4,5, iv. 4, vi. 11, vii. 9, 13.) White was ^e pre- 
dominating colour in the priests* vestments, (Jennings, Jemiik 
AmiqiynA. i. p.. 212, ei tef.; Jahn, Arehaeloyia BibUeHi ^ 368, 
370,) and in ^ose of the Levites, as appetw from S'Chron^'V. 12. 
As ' black :.wiBS the customary indication of mourning, so whil^ 
garaMiita were used in seasons of joy and festivity^ — (Jahn;Kl 
svfray^ ll9iuid 148.) Hence we see the propriety of the «x^ 
preasieii in Judges v, 10, -'^ Ye that ride- on winte asses,"^. e. 
** whicli appear to be white from the garments which^ have bem 
spread <i?er tiiem foir ^e accommodation of the riders; none but 
wteta^garm^rits bttng worn by the Hebrewn during* their pub^ 
fettivali and days of rejoicing. When Alexander the Great 
casM toi J^salem, we are informed by Josephus, 4hat he was 
met Jby dm'peofde in white raiment, the priest^ geiag before them^ 
Pfailo,' alw>, in lus book inpt cip£r*»v, describ^.tl|epubliefef<0ic- 
ingsio Kt#0pe^attd Asia, speaks of sacrifices, men^dresied^m 
wfaiie andgadands^ sbkmn assemblies, and nightly ^feasts, 'With 
pi]^aiidhai|iw It' was customary to ihrow^ the white gamientii 
thus worn over ahimala that carried persons of distinction/-*^ 
(Burder, Oriental Cutfanu, No. 242.) White was a favourite 
cdottr among Hie Gredcs and Romans* — ^Potter, AntiqMitiee of 
Cfreeee, lib. iv. cap. ^ ; Adams, Raman AnHqmiies, p. 411, et 
$eq.: abo Fleurj^a Matmen of the ItraelUegf p. 76. 

— let thy heetd laek no ointmen^^It is well known that 
perfumes. wens artieleff of great request in Oriental luxiiqr*'^ 


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138 NOTES. [chap. IX. 

(See my note io Proverbs yii. 17.) The original word in this 
place properly signities " oil/ which, in Scripture, b often used 
for ointments or perfume. — See Paxton*B Ilbutratiinu, vol. ii. 
p. 296. 

9. Live ja^ulfy with thy wife, &c.] — ^This may perhaps, at 
first, be thought inconsbtent with the assumed character of aa 
irreligious man, or Epicurean, especially as Solomon has else^ 
where commended the marriage state; (Proverbs v. 15, xviii. 22, 
xix. 14;) but, upon a nearer inspection, it will be found to cor- 
respond with the other sentiments uttered in this passage by 
the objector. It is not said. Pursue lawful ra^er than illicit 
pleasures, and prefer the chaste enjoyments of jnatrimonial love 
to ^e embraces of the wanton, but live joyfully, or, as it is in 
the English margin, enjoy life with the wife whom thou lovest; 
that is, indulge in all the pleasures that life affords together witb 
thy wife, as mutual love will heighten every other enjoyment 
Dr. Durell is of opinion that *^ the sensuahst, in order to pass 
over no incentive to stimulate the passions, seems here .to 
recommend polygamy; for by recommending a favourite wtfe, 
he insinuates ihat the person he spoke to had other wives, or 
cmusubinet: a practice but too much countenanced by Solomon 
himself, and all the opulent in every part of ihe East." — (Critieai 
Rem, in loc.) Whatever probability there may be in ^ese 
observations, the passage in question is, in my judgment, . an 
exhortation to pass a life of pleasure und voluptuous ease, per- 
fectly harmonizing with the counsel given immediately before, 
" Eat thy bread with joy," &c. — The Hebrew, here rendered 
" live joyfully,*' is literally, " see life," t. e. enjoy it, iii. 13, 
V. 17, vi. 6; Ps. xxxiv. 12. See 1 Pet. iii. 10. 

— which he hath given thee] — Many commentators refer this to 
'^ the wife f but " days" is the natural antecedent, and this coa- 
structiou seems to agree better with the context; nevertheless .the 
former, *' live joyfully with the wife — whom he hath given thee," is 
admissible ; for '< whoso findeth a wife, findeth^a good thmg," and 
" a prudent wife ift from the Lord."— (Prov. xviii. 22,.xix. 14.) The 


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CHAP IX.] note;?. 139 

clause '' an Ibe days of jthy yaaity" is omitted ia seTeral VS^. 
both of Kenaicott aad De Rossi, aad by ail the aacfteaty^rsioas, 
^Kcept die Vi%ate ; I have, therefore, iaduded it ia brackets. 

!#• Whaigoetier thy ha^d, &c.]— There can beao doubt that 
fiiis hemistidi may, in itself, refer to aay goodlhiag; but the 
scope of 1i^ whole passage diows its meaoiag to be Ai^ : '^ what- 
ever means of yoluptuousness and {jeasure Ikon canst discover, 
have recourse to them, and give free indulgence to thy inclina* 
tions." This interpretation is confirmed by the remainder of the 
iTierae, which forms no reason for doing strenuously whatever 
good thing a man has it in his power to do, but is quite agreeable 
to die false reasouag of the sensualist 

— in the grave] — ^The original is Sheol, or Hades, which 
denotes the regions of departed spirits, whether good or bad ; 
(see my note to Prcnr. xv. 11 ;) yet, as Solomon puts it into the 
mouth oi a sensualist, it may admit of a doubt whether it is here 
used in its proper acceptation, or simply for tbe grave. 

11* Iretumedf &c.]*^The Preacher here begins bis r^ly to 
the foregoing objection, by conceding that there are seeming 
iaequalilaes in the distributioQ of temporal rewards; that merit b 
not tiwtLj^ crowned with success; (verse 11 ;) that many of the 
^renAs pf this life seem fortuitous, aad that man knfyweth Upt the 
time when they shaU happen; (vierae 12;) nevertheless, upon c(m- 
templatiag Wisdom, he finds it to be the most valuable of aH 
possessions, (verse 13 et seq.) 

— hut time and chance happeneth to them all] — After ob- 
serving t^at various circumstances occur contrary to what might 
be expected; tbat virtue does not always meet with a reward, nor 
wisdom with wiccess, the Preacher adds, ** but time and chance 
happeneth to thCTH aU," which, in this connexion, certainly iaqpltes 
that all are liable to the same, a[^arent aocidentsi and casualties. 
By ^'tune," therefore, I understand the seasons of pvosperous 


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140 NOTES. [chap. IX. 

and adTerse fortune; and by " chaDce," events seemingly casual. 
This by no means excludes a Divine power and agency in buman 
afibirs, as the drift of the argumSent is merely, that many circum- 
stances seem to happen by chance. There may, nevertheless, be 
an over-ruling Providence in the disposal of all events, which, 
though ^ey may seem casual and fortuitous, are in reality ordeind 
according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. 
It is evident timt the several clauses of this verse must be taken 
with some restrictions, as in the Panqphrase. 

12; man inawetk itot kis time] — Some limit this to the time of 
evil and calamity ; but it seems rather to denote the time when 
the various events of this life shall take place, and which no man 
can foresee: *^ perioditm suian, fortunam ejusque vicisutudines.'' 
^^Doededein, Scholia in loc. 

13. This Wiidom] — ^The Wisdom here spoken of is not 
political wisdom, or human prudence, as Patrick and odi^rs 
maintain; for though the example which follows may be supposed 
to go no farther than to show the utility of mere human skill and 
prudence, yet that True Wisdom is meant in this passage may be 
inferred from ^e drift of the whole second part of this treatise, 
and from the opposition in the eighteenth verse. ** Wisdom is 
better than weapons of war; but one sinner destroyeth much 
good;" where, as Bishop Reynolds remarks, '< by the opposition 
between a sinner and a wise man, it is evident that the vnse man 
here described is also a godly man." — Comment, in loc See 
Critical Note (*.) 

* The argument would he clearer, if nt oa at the beginmng of 
the verse might be rendered ** notwithstandmg this," and Dathe 
has " attamen;" it must, however, be acknowledged, that nt ca:i 
occurs in eight other places of this book, seven times followed 1^ 
b'ln, vanity, and once by nifX evil: and always signifying " this 
also.'' It has ^e same meaning in the only other place where it 


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CHA.P. IX.] NOTES. 141 

14. freaJt 6iclioarA«]— See Critical Note {*.) 

16^ ]pi>0T\ — For the meanbg of the original word X^on^ see 
chap. iv. 13, and notes. 

16. Neveriheleu the poor man^s wudom, &c.] — This» it is true, 
may be a general proposition; though it is more probable that it 
refers to the person mentioned in the former verse. Now the 
poor man who delivered the city by his wisdom could not have 
been altogether despised, and his words must have been heard ; 
the expressions in tins verse are, therefore, to be taken in a 
limited sense/ that poverty (rfien throws wisdom into the shade, 
and hinders the respect and attention which a wise man deserves. 
If the words are considered as a general propoMtion, they must be 
limited the same way. The preceding clause, ^* no man re- 
membered that same poor man," is to be widerstood with a 
similar r^triction, namely, he was not esteemed proportionably 
to his merits. 

17. The words of wUe men] — ^There is an apparent contra- 
diction between this and the sixteenth verse, which translators 
and commentators endeavour to avoid by difierent means. Some 
suppose the two verses relate to different times and persons, there 
being times when the words of the wise are not heard, and other 

is found. Gen. xxxv. 17. If» therefore, we are not warranted 
in giving it any other sense here, the verse may be explained, as 
in the Paraphrase, nearly to the same effect 

* That oniYD must here mean some kind of military works 
used in sieges (" machinse obsidionales," Cocceius) is most 
certain. It is derived from iiy, to hunt, to catch bea$tg, birds, 
or fishes; and hence ilYD and r\'i\ra denote a net, and also a 
besieging work, a bulwark, as here and Isaiah xxix. 7; but see^ 
Michaelis, Suppkm. ad Lex. No. 2126. 


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142 NOTES. [chap. IX. 

thnes when tfiey are attended to. Odiors explain Hie meamng 
thus: ''The words of the wise ought to be heard,'' Durell; ''The 
meek words of the wise better merit attentton,'' Hodgson. Some, 
again, understand it in the following manner: " The words of the 
wise uttered with calmness are more obeyed than/' &c,; so 
Dadie, van der Palm, Boodiroyd, and o&ers. Hue deA^em 
considerable support from the appearance of opposition between 
" die words of the wise,^ and "the cry of a ruler among fools.'' 
Ottiers take the or%mal word rendered '^in qoAe^ (Unja, quiei- 
neUf ealwmeu) to be the abstract for the ooncarete^ " qnt^t," t. e. 
men of a cafan and pladd dispmdtioD, and interpret it thus t 
" Hie words of the wise ard more minded antong men of a 
quiet dispoMtion than,"^ &c. ; so DesYdeux^ Le Clerc; lii &YO«r 
of diis it may 1>e alleged, that th^re appears an opponfion 
between die original words rendered " in qnie^ and ** aHK>ng 
fools ;" (nnJl and ia*V^3i;) and, as there can be no questidn as 
to the meaning of the latter, the fohner should s^em to mean, 
" among men of a contrary disposition, men of a virtnoiR and 
tranquil temper of mind." It is difficult to say which of these 
expositions deserve the preference ; but though I have r etabed 
the authorized version, as is my rule in doubtful cases, I am in- 
dined to think that either of the following is a more correct 
translation: "The words of the wise ar^ more attended to among 
Ae peaceful than the clamour of a ruler if amobg fools;" or, 
" The words of the wise, uttered with calmness, are more at- 
tended to than the clamour of a ruler among fools." Following 
die example of Biidiop Patrick^ I have expressed both in die 
Paraphrase.— See Critical Note (♦•) 

* As 1 prefixed to nouns in Hebrew sometimes turns diem into 
adjectives, tZ)>^*D:ia bmm may mean a fooUshrkler, as rendered 
by the Syriac translator; soGeier, Nddius, Patrick, &c. The 
LXX is wrsp Kpavyttv tfyvffUifyvrufp £P o^ffvf'accy. those who 
rule with foUy, foolish nilers.-^See Glass, PAt7. Sac. p. 30; 
Poli Synop.; and Michaefis, Not Uber, in loc. 

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CHAP. X.] NOTES. 143 

18. M me niMer]^--See Critical Note (*.) 


1. Btadfluif &c.]— Tnuwlaton, andent ts well as modem, 
differ exceedmgljr ; yet if we take iato coDttdearatieB tbe natoie of 
tte argmneaty which ht a defence of Wisdom, we shall be eon- 
▼inced that this yene ought to b^ expbaied agreeably to the 
author's design of setting forth the praise of Wisdon and the 
censure of folly. The observation it contains, therefore, is, that 
m little folly is as detrimental to a man of honour and reputation 
as dead flies are t6 precious cnntment The comparison is not, 
indeed, expressed in the origmal, but the particles of comparison 
are often omitted. Neither is it any objection to this inteqpreta- 
lion, that it is difficult to distmguidi the particulars in which the 
similitude consists ; for the Asiatics were not soHcitous about that 
justness and propriety in comparisons, which are considered in- 
dispensable in European productions.— (See Sir Wm. Jones, 
Ccmimw de P6e»eoi Ariai* p. 141, ed. Eichhom.) It is not neoes* 
sasy, thei^ore, to vindicate the propriety of the similitude in 
every particular, nor to endeavour, like Scheuchzer, to ascertain 
its correctness on chymieal prindj^es. It may be remarked, that 
the verbs aire mngidar and the nominative [^ral; but such an 
eliallage is common when they are meant distributively, as in 
this instance, nttm^, any one o( the dead flies causes the 
iDlntmenti &c» 

* The primaiy meaning of Mtsn is afiaprayiiy, aberrare a teopo; 
(see my note to Prov. vui. 96;) hence HtDin is one who errs from 
the ruks of wisdom as iwell as from those of virtue. In the 
lutings of Sdomon, vir^ and wisdom, sin and foUy^ are fre- 
qumitly synonymous; for which reason it is immaterial here 
whether KtDin be rendered '^ a sinner^ or '* a fool;" it is clearly 
one ** qm a veri sapientil abentU^ ejusque gubemaculo destitutus 
omnia perverse et stulte agtt^^ — MichaeUs, JVo^. Ubtr* in loc. 


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144 NOTES. [chap. X. 

2. A wist wuaCs heart, &c.]— -True is tbe obsenratiOD of 
DesToeux, (p. 411,) that " a literal translatioii of a proverbial me- 
taphor must hSl short of the original, whenever the same image 
or die same notion has not given rise to the like proverb in both 
languages." Yet there can be no difficulty here in understanding 
the meaning, as diis proverbial expression was evidently designed 
to intimate die ready prudence and constant circumspection of 
the wise man, as o(^posed to the rashness, carelessness, and 
want of thought in die fool. — Compare ch. ii. 14. 

3. he iaiih to evenf one thtU heua fool] — Namely, either in 
die height of hb folly he conriders every one he meets as a focA, 
or he betrays hb own folly to all he meets. The former is sup- 
ported by the Vulgate, and the latter, m some degree, by die 
Septuagint and Syriac, which are to this effect, " that all his 
thoughts are folly." 

4. If the tpirit of the rukr, &c.]— The Preacher here shows 
the great use of Wisdom in regulating our conduct towards 
superiors, teaching us to restrain all disloyal and unlawful attempts, 
and to behave towards them in a patient and peaceable manner, 
when their anger is excited against us. This interpretation is 
confirmed by the latter part of the verse. Those, therefore, are 
mistaken, who understand it as a counsel to governors thus: ^If 
the spirit of a governor come upon thee," that is, if thou hast a 
desire to be in authority, or art made a rul^r, behave thyself 
suitably to thy station. — (See Bishop Patrick in loc.) " Spiiit,'* 
nil, is sometimes put for anger, as may be seen in the Lex. 

— leave not thy place] — ^Namely, leave not thy office, omit 
not thy duty and submission : or perhaps dius, ** leave not diy 
place," that is, in order to resbt, but submit patiently ; for such 
a conduct wiU prove i^b*id, ca^ia, " a healing medicine, a sabre/' 
as Parkhurst expresses it, that will appease or atone for great 
offences. The comment of Bishop Reynolds is excellent. 
'' Leave not thy place. Continue within the bounds of thine own 


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CHAP. X.] NOTES. 145 

calling and condition; do not, either through fear or despair, 
withdraw thyself firom thy duty, or, through insolence and im- 
patience, rise up in disloyalty against him whose spirit b risen 
up against thee ; keep still in the rank of a subject, and behave 
with suitable lowliness and submission. He speaks not of a • 
prudent withdrawing from a storm, as Jacob fled firom Esau, 
David from Saul, Elijah from Jezebel, and Christ from Herod, 
bdt against disloyal disaffection, going out of the ruler's sight, 
as Israel departed to their tents," &c. 

5. became of an error which proceedethfram the nc/er] — The 
standard version is, *' as an error which proceedeth from the 
ruler;" but, though it is supported by the LXX, the Hexaplarian 
versions, Desvoeux, Diodati, and many others, it cannot be cor- 
rect; for the Preacher's meaning is, not that the evil spoken of 
was like to an error proceeding from rulers, but that it was ittelf an 
error committed by them. Hie particle Caph, therefore, cannot 
be used as a particle of similitude, but must either mean truly, 
certainhfy or became of, on account of — (Noldius in voe. 8. 22. 
So »c ifl sometimes used: see Schleusner.) Hie evil occasioned 
• by the piince's error is mentioned in the tw6 following verses. 
Such evils might exist under Solomon's administration, since 
the wisest are liable to errors, or he might allude to what he 
observed in other states. 

6. and^he rtcA]— See Critical Note (*.) 

* The noun on*tt^9, being opposed to b^on, the foolish, the 
concrete for the abstract, cannot mean simply the rich ; but either 
those who are eminent and noble, who are usually rich; or, the 
rich in wisdom, the wise. Hodgson renders it ** men of talents;" 
Dathe, ** nobUes praestantes." Some join oan with the second 
hemistich, and render it, ** while the noble and rich sit in low 
place." — B&uer, van der Palm, Boothroyd. 


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146 NOTES. [chap. X. 

7. terwMU Mpm Aorfet] — ^Bidiiig on hpraen is of)«Q iiienlk»e4 
in Scripture as an indicalioD of enineQce and digaity. — (Estiier 
Ti. 6f 9; Jer. xvii* 25; &ek, xxiii. 23.) So it is at die preseat 
day, as is shown by Hanaer, OUerwUUmt, Sec. rol. iL p. 412, 
and Binder, Oneaial CutUms, No. 636. 

— w^ikmg a$ Benxmiiy-Sme diia is a part oC the evil which 
the Preacher says arises fipom the error of rulers, the meaniiif 
cannot be, diat noble persons sometimes conduct themsdres like 
the meanest subjects, but that persons of rank and family are 
sometimes, through the mistake of supreme goyemors, depriyed 
of the honours and dignity which they merit 

8. & that diggetk, ^.>*-*Takuig into oonirid^ntion 1}ie scope 
of 4he context, and die design ci dns.second part, there omi be 
no doidbt dial dua and die nejt Temse, ccwsisting of short and 
pithy f4[Aonsm0t such as most prey^il in periods before, leammg 
has ^dyanoed to any high degree of culdyation, are intended to 
illustniite the advantages iyf Wisdom. The general sei|se, dien, 
iq^am to be, that the yicdadon of the maxims of Wisdom is 
followed by punishment, agreeaUy to the old adages, ** He diat 
digg^tb n 1^^ Ac These adages, as here apj^ied, should 
doubd^ss be received hi die largest acceptation they vrill admit 
Now, in the first place, they show, that conduefc in contradiction 
to the obligations of Religion is followed by pernicious conse- 
quences, just as *^ he that diggeth a pit^ to £nti:ap others, or he 
that *^ breaketh an hedge" of an enemy, or *^ removeth the stones" 
of his neighbour's landmark, or ''cleaveih (and cutteih down his) 
wpodj" shall, by a just retribution, meet.wjt^ d^erved punish- 
ment* . The person who contriyes wicked schemes against 
another shall himself be d»e sufferer; a i{>ctm^ fonnded upon 
the.lemporal retribution under the Mosaic iK>yeni»nlt, and else- 
where inculcated by Sok)po9Tr-(Pr<yF. xxvi. 27, xxvin. IQ.) la 
the next, phice, they ^ jG^sth the utility ^ i^ cirewnsped and 
prudent conduct in die common affairs pf homan life. '' He Aat 


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CHAP. X.] NOTES. 147 

diggeth a pit" imprudently ** shall fall into it/' and he that 
** breaketh an hedge" carelessly shall be bit by serpents, which 
usually lodge there; and in like manner many evils befall the 
imprudent and foolish, which might be a?oided by wisdom and 
discretion. — See Doederlein, Scholia in loc. and Critical Note (*.) 

9. shall be endangered\ — See Critical Note (f.) 

10. Jf the irtm, &c.] — The workman who has not the wisdom 
or the prudence to sharpen his tools must use greater exertions 
in performing his task ; <* but Wisdom is excellent to cause 
success" in the common acts and occupations of life. Hie 

* It is plain that X^^^> ^^y found here, means apii. It is so 
rendered by the ancient translators, and it has the same sense in 
Chaldee and Syriac. Schultens, in his Clavis Dialect p. 199, 
appeals to the Arabic (j^^x ? there seems, however, but little 
analogy between them. — (See Golius, Lex, Art^, p. 1734.) The 
word Tii seems properly to mean a wall of stones. — (Parkhurst 
in voc. ; Harmer, Observations, vol. ii. p. 219, vol. iii, p. 231.) 
Walls fiill of chinks must be a common receptacle for venomous 

t The parallelism shows that pD must, in this place, have 
s<Mne signification allied to endangering, or hurting ; and so it is 
understood by the authors of the S^ptuagint, Vulgate, and Syriac 
versions, and by the generality of modem translators ; but how 
this sense is to be deduced from the root pD is a question of very 
great difficulty. Perhaps it may be derived from the sense 
which the radix has of being poor; (see notes to ch. iv. 13;) as 
those who are poor are exposed to many dangers : certainly it 
means periclitari in Chaldee. — (See Buxtorf, Lex. Chald. Talm. 
Rab, p. 1476.) Parkhurst in his Lex, understands it in the sense 
of profiting ; " he who cleaveth wood shall be profited by it," 
to which the parallelism opposes an insuperable objection. 
L L 


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148 NOTES. [C^AP. X. 

atguBMiity tlMfcfon?, is to this efed: As the mechanic, who pays 
BO atteatioo to the goodness and sharpness of his tools, is foiced 
toperfoim his woifc domsily, and by dint of stiength, fdiSe tiie 
skilfiil artisan execotes his.witti ease, neatness, and despati^; 
so, indiecondtiotof life,afooliseTerinerror, whilea^nsemaa . 
nses the properesi means, and directs them to die wisest ends. — 
See -)»tton ezpUmed in the notes to ch. u. 21. 

11. Smrebf a $erpeMi, &cJ] — ^This verse has been rend^ed, 
** A swpent will bito without warning, and one that loves to 
prat6 is no better,"- diat is, a prater wounds yon before yoa can 
be aware oi him.— -(Wemyss, BibHeal QlMmk^, p. 151; see 
also Job Orton's Paraphrate.) But this is totally opposed by 
the original, the sense of which is, that a babbler will sting widi 
his words, like a serpent when it b not charmed : yet as die 
poison of noxious animals may be avoided by the power of cer- 
tain charms, samay the (fences of the tongue be prev^ited by 
the exercise of prudence and discr^tifvi. — (Bee Calmet) Am 
idea that serpents might be charmed by music prevaSed la 
antiquity, and stiU does in the East at Ihe psesent time« It is 
unnecessary for the ^lustration of tlus veise before us to. enlarge 
upon this curious subject ; I shall, therefore^ content myself widi 
referring to the following works, where the reader will find, mocit 
learned and entertaining matter relative to the charming of ser- 
pmits by nuisical sounds, namely, Bochart, Hieroz. P. iL fib^ 3, 
cap* 6; Shuckford, CotineetWM, vol. iii. p. 318, et teq.; Mldbaetis, 
Commenlariet oii^Ae Laiptof 2Kf<iM«,art. 255 ; Jahn, AttkoBskd^im, 
Biblica, § 403 ; Paxton, IHugtraiiom of Scr^iiure^ P. ii. cap. 4.; 
Parkhurstin it^nb; Blaney oit .ler^miaft viiL 17 ; Gataker, AA- 
versaria, ci^p. viii. p. 71. 

— And a babbler] — A different turn is given to this clause. by 
some, who think the phrase means ^* an enchanter," not ^ a 
babbler,'' namely, if the serpent hath bitten before the enchanter 
hath exercised his art, there is no profit to the enchanter ; (see 
van der Palm, Bauer, and Boothipyd;) but die origiacd deaily 


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CHAP. X.] NOTES. 149 

mgittfies a babbler, imd there is no authority for adopting a dif* 
. fevent reading with the two foniier annotators. Lu^Ps Oetmaa 
TOfsion b to this effect, ** A babbler or gossip b nothing better 
than a serpint, that stings without provocation." 

12. swaihw up himself] — Some refer the pronoun to ** grace,** 
in the former hemistich ; thus, ** The words of the wbe are grace, 
«. e. kre gracious ; but the lips of a fool destroy it, t . e. grace.** — 
See Pdi Sgtwp. 

13. The beginning, &c]— Bbtfa this and the fc^lftring verse 
areillustrative of the i^cond henibticb of the preceding one, and 
describe the mbchievous madness of a fooPs words. 

14. A fool also is full of words, &c.] — A description of the 
empty futility of the much speaking of the foolish. Hiough the 
fool may use ever so many words we are no wiser; the event of 
things is^ually unknown, and no man can foresi^e ihe fdture. 
Thifi^ seenks'the most easy interpretation of the verse, and though 
it may be allowed that its pertinency to the Preacher's discourse 
is not very striking, and that it does not well account for the 
tautology in ih.e latter part of it, yet, as the reader Vnust be aware, 
neither 't>f 'these objections present an insuperable diffidiilty. 
A^dier le^itpositlon is given in die collections of Pool, whidi takes 
&^. latter part of the verse as iet miinesis, or reptesentsition of 'the 
io(X% words ; thus, ** And the fool us^th many wbtds, saying, 
A man cannot tc^ll what shall be,'' &c. But it ' b very unlikely 
tkat Sol(>mon should put into the mouth of a fool a sentiment 
which he had expressed himself more than once, ch. iii. 22, 
vi. 12, viii. 7. Another interpretation b proposed by that able 
commentator, Geier, and adopted by Dr. Hodgson, which is to 
^ib efiect : " Though the fool use many words, no man can tell 
What they mean, and to what purpose they tend no man can 
inform him." This, however, sippears irreconcilable with the 
signification of the same expressions in the texts above referried 
to ; so that, upon the whole, the first interpretation, though liable 


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160 NOTES. [chap. X. 

to 8<Niie exceptions^ seems preferable to any other. There is not 
an atom of external evidence for. die conjecture of van der Palm» 
though approved by Bauer in his Scholia, that the last clause 
is an interpolation ; and the difficulty of interpretation cannot be 
allowed to form even a colourable reason for expunging either a 
word or a verse. 

16. Because he kmaweth not, &c.] — ^This clause I consider as 
one of those instances where the literal rendering would be better 
exchanged for an equivalent The expressions '' he knoweth not 
how to go to the city" are undoubtedly a proveibial phrase, de- 
noting extreme ignorance of the plainest matters ; and therefore 
the sense of the original is, ** The labour of the foolish wearieth 
every one of them, because each is ignorant of the plainest 
matters.''— See Critical Note (*.) 

Id. Wo to thee, land, &c.] — ^The Preacher here reverts to 
the foOy of rulers, which he had touched upon before, (verse 5 
et seq.,) and specifies a particular instance of it in the pernicious 

* Doederlein, who is followed by van der Palm and Datbe, 
takes ")»ir, a city, ex usu Arabico, for a multitude of men, and 
thus explains the verse; namely. That the fool who avoids 
friendly intercourse with others, sustains more trouble and faJdgoe 
in his various labours, than those who seek the aid and counsel 
of their fellow-creatures. The Arabic ^^a^i it is true^ denotes 
timul iterfacientium cohors, vulgo, caravana; (Golius, Lex. Arab. 
p. 1677;) but this sense of yjf is wholly without example in the 
Old Testament; and, indeed, the Arabizing critics are puzzled in 
deriving from the Arabic the sense of city, which certainly 
belongs to vp, as the root in that language has no such meaning. 
— ^There is another explanation, thus stated by Dathe : ^' Aliter 
Michaelis: Stultus magis quam alii.sibi sapere videtur. Prop- 
terea non vult incedere via trita; novam quaerit, eventu vero 
parum felici.'' 



CHAPi X.] NOTES. 151 

effects, when they are destitute of Wisdom, and are intemperate, 
contrasted with the blessings of those who are of an opposite 

— ii a child\ — Because of the opposition in the following 
verse, and because the word here translated ** a chOd" (H^i) 
sometimes means a servant, or slave, Desvoeux, Doederlein, 
Bauer, and Dathe ascribe that meaning to it in the present in- 
stance. Others 'take it for one to whom the crown descends 
during his minority; but it is plain to me that it here signifies a 
child in understanding, in experience, and in knowledge; one 
unskilled in the arts of goveminent, fiibblish, and therefore unfit 
to rule an empire. 

— eat in tlie mmning] — It is evident, that by this expression 
a degree of intemperance is indicated. The breakfast of the 
Orientals usually consists of bread, honey, milk, fruits, and such 
like edibles; hence to feast in the morning was a proof of in- 
temperance. — (See Prov. xxxi. 4, 6, and my note there; Harmer, 
Observations, &c. voL i. p. 370 ; Jahn, ArehceoL BihL § 145.) 
Van der Palm explains it of carousing till the morning, ** usque 
ad diluculum ;" which, to say the least, is very doubtful. 

17. the son of nobles'] — Namely, " one nobly seasoned with 
just principles of honour and government; as a son of death, of 
perdition, of wrath, is one devoted to death, &c. — By sons of 
nobles we are not to understand such as are descended from 
noble parents, and who have noble blood in their veins, but those 
abo who are noble in virtue, as well as in birth and blood. This 
is true nobiUty." — Bishop Reynolds. 

— in due seas(m\ — That is, when they only spend the usud 
time allotted to the banquet, and employ the remaining hours of 
the day in business or needful recreation ; or, in other words, when 
they do not transgress the bounds of temperance in eating and 


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152 NOTES. [chap. X. 

drinkiiig. As in Um authorized tmnilatioB ^re is soBie iiicoB- 
fpruity in saying that prinoes eol for dnmkmme$8, the orq^nal 
mighty perhi^y be better rendered ** who eat in due season, for 
strengdii and not for revebry." 

18. By wmck $Mfitbms, &e.]-^Haviag now demonstialed 
the value of Wisdom, and vindicated it from ^ objeetioiis of 
sensual Epicurean cavflkrs, the Preacher proceeds, from this 
verse to the end of the boc^, to enforce practical Wiskiom, and 
to deduce several moral inferences iihistrative of its nature aad 
advantages. The maxims and admonitions which he delivers are 
in themsdves highly imp<Htant, and prove that the Wisdom he 
eulogizes in this treatise is not speculative, but operative or 
practical, the Wisdom of the heart rather than of the head,' and 
m all respects answering to what we should teim Rdigion. Some 
understand this as an iUustration of the soteenth verse; namely, 
a kingdom may be compared to a house; and as a'buttdtng de- 
4myeth when tiie householder is too ind<4ent to repair it, so a 
slate is brou^ to ruin by the negligence of the rulers. But it 
rather seems a dissuasive from idleness in general, tiiaa whkh 
few things are more inhnical to Wisdom. 

19. Afeoit ii made, &c.] — After attentively considering those 
commentaries in w^ch this v^cse is connected vrith^^ foi^going, 
I am far frt)m being satisfied; and therefore I deem it best to 
take it as a detached and isdated apophthepn, teadring tibe 
extensive sway and predominating power of wealA. If, how- 
ever, it should be thought prqper to connect it widi the form^ 
verse, it may be dius paraphrased: '' Ilirough idkne$s^irf hmtdt 
the house droppeth through ; for, instead of labouring to repair k, 
a feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh them merry ; and 
instead of purchasing what is necessary towards the ^pairs, 
their money amwereth all thing§, that is, prooureth wfaateiv)^ 
their craving appetites demand.'' When it b said tiiat <^ ^non^ 
aaswereth all things," i. e. supplieth aU things, common sense 


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CHAP. X.] NOTES. 153 

requiret it to be underetood wkh proper limitationB. — See Critical 

20, far a bird of the air, &c.] — ^The general sense is, That 
malediction and detraction, of the opulent and powerful cannot be 
concealed, but will be discovered in a way, perhaps, little sus- 
pectedi The partioilar image, howevo*, is difficult to explain. 
The ** Urd^ and " winga'' may represent either spies and informers^ 
aad the celerity with whidi they give their information; or the 
rapid: progress of fame. By some the meaning is represented to 
be thb: Hiat inward curses, however hidden from die notice of 
men, are heard by that Almighty Being who will certainly punish 
^em. It has been supposed, that Solomon alludes to the custom 
of sending despatches between distant places by meana of 
carrier-pigeons ; (see Calmet^ in he* ; Bochart, Opera, yd. i. 
p; 20.; andPaxton, Hbutraiions^ &c. voL ii« p. 63;) but there is 
no evidence that such a custom obtained at so early an age. 
Neither is there any reason for believing, with Grotius, that here 
is an. allusion to some such story as the classical one of the Cranes 
of Ibycus, though an Eastern tale of the same land has been 
adduced.— (See Burder's Oriowtal Literaiure applied to the 
Illueiration of the Seriptures^ just published.) But whatever 

* The verb nJO^S according to the various senses of the root, 
may be readied ** afflicteth/' (so Syriac,) and '* exerdseth,!' 
as well. a» ^^answereth" or supplietha but in the two former 
tmnslatioiis the proposition is not. tt:ue; for which reason the 
standard vernon is to be preferred: ** argentnm iidtnr. exaiudire 
ammemi vd re^jHmdere omni, i. e^ facere, ut responsum exoptfLtum 
repoffiet et exaudiatMr/'— (Simonis^ jLexi Hjeb4 in n^]}, ed* Eich- 
hom.) To this effect LXX, Vulgate, Symmachus, Cocceius, 
Desvoenx^ Oeier, van der Pelm, Bauer, Bathe, ^c; but 
Doedeilein renders n^* by *' canere facii omnes, Isetificat. Sic 
re8poiiditT««4>rw et rwm.*^ — SchoUd in loc. 


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154 NOTES. [chap XI. 


doubts may exist about the particular image, the general sense of 
the text is very clear. — See Critical Note (*.) 


1. Cast thf bread upon, the waters] — EEaving evinced the 
wisdom of obedience to governors, and of becoming patience 
under their misconduct, the inspired Penman now adyerts to the 
utility of Wisdom in directing our conduct towards our indigent 
inferiors. The second verse demonstrates that the discourse 
touches upon charity ; and, however the particular image in the 
verse before us may be explained, the drift of the passage un- 
doubtedly is to recommend benevolent and diffusive charity. 
Some think that the phrase, " cast thy bread, or rather bread- 
corn, upon the waters,^ is taken from mercantile affairs, when 

* As there is an apparent incongniity in representing that as 
revealed which only passes in the thoughts, Desvoeux interprets 
the word ']9'^d^ thus, '* though thou shouldest know reason for 
it;" a very far-fetched interpretation at least, and perhaps con- 
trary to grammar and idiom. Van der Palm renders it " *in 
thalamo tuo,' vel ' in loco concubitus tui ;' respiciens ad pecu- 
liarem ilium usum verbi tfi^, quo de rebus canjugalibus usurpataT;" 
an exposition, if any can be, ingeniously erroneous. I once 
thought it might be translated ^' among thy kmsfolk or acquaint- 
ance;" but in that case it would most likely have been in the 
plural number, not to mention that the word for kinsman is jrniD, 
not 91D, — (Ruth if. 1 ; Prov. vii. 4.) The noun yno in other {^aces 
. signifies scientia, knowledge, understanding; (2 Chron. i. 10, 11, 
12; Dan. i. 4, 17;) and though, according to the rendering, ''in 
thy thought," the ^latter which 6nly passes in the mind is said to 
be revealed, yet, as the verse is highly figurative, it is an admis- 
sible hyperbole, and is certainly favoured by the ancient veraons. 


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CHAP. XI.] NOTES. 155 

goods are intrusted in ships on the ocean, in the hope of future 
profit : some, again, that it is taken from agriculture, when the 
husbandman sows his seed-corn in moist and irriguous grounds, 
and though it may, for a while, rot and perish, it afterwards springs 
up, and yidds an abundant increase. It has also been explained 
lui aB allusion to a practice, common in Egypt, of sowing the 
scjdd previous to the complete recession of the waters of the Nile, 
which produced a more equable distribution of the seed than if 
it had been sown upon the dry ground, and, consequently, a more 
abundant crop, though to the inexperienced it knight seem like 
tiirowing it away. — (See Gerard's Imtitvies of Biblical Critidgm, 
§ 478, and Hevi^lett's Bible.) In the opinion of others, it is a 
proverbial expitessoon, denoting widely-extended liberatity. Des- 
yoeux's version is^ '* Sow thy com before the waters," i. e. before 
the rainy season ; so Boothroyd ; but it may be doubted whether 
*lfi ^ ever means before, Ihough Noldius gives it that significa^^ 
iJM>n. !N nearly altied to this is the version of Dr. Hodgson, " Sow 
thy seed when showers apjuroach." Dathe considers it as a 
dissuasive irom pursuing present to the neglectbg future gain and 
advantage;* an intei|>retation altogether unwarranted, as the 
coAU^i proves that charity and benevolence are the subject 
For the same reason we must reject the opinion of those who 
explain it litendly <^ the sowing of grain, or of the exercise of 
merch&Qdi&e. Upon the whole, the opinions of those who sup- 
pose the image to be taken from agriculture is most probable; 
and I hate given, in the Paraphrase, what appears to be the sense, 
and which is sanctioned by Bishc^ Lowth's learned friend in 
Pr<Blect.4e Sac. Poes. Heb. p. 121, ed. Oxon. 1810. " Bread,*' 
it is obvious, like the same word in die Lord's Prayer, here in- 
cludes all things necessary to the subsistence of life. W hatever the 
pqpr a^id distressed stand in need of should be liberally supplied. 

* ** Soadet auctor at non pnesens lucrum tantum et certum appetamns, 
l^d etiam iUturum et iacectum non negligamus ; cum hac tamen cautioner 
V. 2, ut non omnia uni committamus, sed cum pluribus negotia partiamur, 
quod fit in mercatura per navigationem/' — Dathe, Nota in loc. See also 
i>iieck(rleiil,jS0^liaiB loc. 
M M 


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158 NOTES. [chap, xi^ 

-^ for ikcm ikaU find U mfter wumy di^f]— This 
BMD, that thou shaU find tgaio that which was distnbiiled, but 
something eqiuyalent to it: namely, thoa shaU in process of tame 
be remunerated, in this worid with the gratitude and kaiAMBs of 
mankind, and with the satisfisctiou of conscioys Tirtue; ia tte 
next, with cTerlasting hapfiiness. Consequently, die meaaing of 
the Terse, stript of the metaphor, is. Distribute thy wealth witb 
liberality, for in process of time thou shalt be r^nunerated. 

2. far thou knoweti not what em/ $ktLU be icpon the eorlA] — 
That is, according to Bishop Patrick, *' for thouknowest not bow 
calamitous the times may shortly be, and then the good thou hast 
done will stand thee in greater stead than all tbe goods thou 
enjoyest 'J* or, according to others, " For thou knowest not wbai 
calamities may befall, which will deprire thee of the opportunity 
of dobg good." But I am of opinion that the meaning is, ** Por 
thou knowest not what evil b, or exists upon the earth;" namely. 
Distribute- thy wealth in acts of charity and kindness to as many 
as possible; for, being rich, thou art ignorant to what degree 
poverty and misery prevail upon the earth. As this, howevor, 
would require an alteration in the received rendermg, to vduch 
many might object, I have followed Bishop Patrick in the Para- 
phrase. It b probable, as some imagine, that there is an allusion 
to the ancient custom, in feasts and entertainments, of distributing 
portions to the guests, and of sending provisions to ihe poor. — 
(Gen. zliii. 34; Neh. xiii. 10; Esth. ix. 22. See Bishop Reynolds 
tnlSoc) ^' To seven and also to eight** is a definite for an indefinite 
number. Compare Job v. 19; Prov. vi. 16, xxx. 15, 18, 21; 
Amos i. 3, 6, 9, Sec; IMicah. v. 5. 

3. ijr ike chuds, &c.] — Without attempting to enumerate tiie 
various expositions of this verse, which would require a consider- 
able space, I shall state that which, in my judgment, is the best 
supported. It may be gathered from the context, that it relates 
to charity and benevolence; and the obscurity arises fromtiie 
second part of the comparison not being expressed. If the 


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oompariaoii be completed, as m the Paraphrese, the whole 
beciwies exceedhif 1y clear and lummous : like as clouds drop 
raiB and fertilise the earth, so should wealth be diffused in bene- 
ficsial act! of charity; and as the tree, when it is fallen, supplies 
neither fhdt to Ihe hungry nor shade to Uie weary, so he who 
boards up riches is useless to mankind.— Min*, I think, is 3 
sing, flit in the Chaldaic form ; but see Dathe, Not. in loc, 

4. He that obiervetk the lotnd]— This, again, is an imperfect 
comparison, the frporatns only being mentioned, learing the 
cnro^o^c to be supplied, and the meaning is, like as the husband- 
man who obserres the wind and clouds, and who is ever watching 
for what he conceiTes a proper state of the weather, will retard, if 
not idtogether defeat, his agricultural pursuits; so the man who 
looks oidy for proper objects of charity, or waits for conrenknt 
seasons, or till odiers set the example, will never be active in 
benevolence, and mankind will derive little advantage from his 
wedth and possesions. 

5. A$ thou knoweit not, &c.] — ^The sense is. If we are ignorant 
of the ordmary works of Providence, as *< the way of the spirit;^ 
hoiw the sold ammates the body ; if we know not ** how the bones 
do groV^ in living beings, how can we pretend to scrutinize the 
deep counsels and designs of €k>d ? And, thm^fbre, we shoidd 
mnbrace the present opportunity of doing good, without being 
adidtous about the future, or waiting for convenient seasons and 
proper ol^ects of charity, in the conviction that Providence will 
80 order tlmigs that our benevolent intentions will tend to good, 
whatever present appearances may be. In the opinioil of some, 
there is an intimation of the miraculous conception of Christ; but 
iStdh, k must be confessed, is somewhat doubtful. See my Scrip- 
ture Testimmnei to the Divinity of Christ, p. 400. 

^ JBnthe morning sow thy seed, &c.]— That is. Be diligent in 
the work of charity ; be liberal and benevolent at all times, and 
apoB all occasiotts. The metaphor is taken, bom the diligejit 

158 NOTES. [chap. XI. 

ItmlNUidmaOy wlio lows hb leed eitfly and late. Deeds of 
diaiity, as Deodati reHuuks, are iSbe seeds of the hanrest ci 
etaiBal life, 3 Cor. iat. 10; OaL ti. 7. It is^ then, ail exliorta- 
turn to charitable condnoty founded on the doctrine in the preced- 
ing Terse. Thus : The ways of Providence are past finding out, 
and that which appears useless to us is sometimes folhywed with 
the most beneficial resuHs, (verse 5;) therefore, ''in the tnoming 
sow thy seed, and in the evening withdraw not thine hand;" 
begin early and continue to the end in well-doing, distribi^g 
freely, without entertaining any scruples as to the propriety of 
thy charities, or hesitating about the consequences; leave the rest 
to Heaven; <^ for thou knowest not whetiier shall prosper, either 
Ais or that" act of kindness, ** or whether they both shall be alike 
good" and useful in relieving the necessities of odiers. Hence 
it is a doty to be charitable, and to leave the result to the super- 
intending Providence of God. 

7. Trubf ike lighi U good, &cJ] — ^Those commentators, I dndc, 
are mistaken who suppose that a new paragraph begins h&e. 
This and the next verse, on the contrary, seem to be intimidely 
connected wi^ the foregoing ones^ and contain another atgum^it 
m finvo^ of charity, to this e£fect: Hdwever great may be the 
sheets and pleasures of Hfe, and whatever delightB a man may 
'^ijoy> yet. seasons of pain, and sickness, and sorrow vrill occur; 
and the Experience of human frailty should meft his heart to 
active benevdence towards every suffering diild of the dust 
By ''light" and '^behol£ng the sun" we are to undierstaiid #!e 
Various (deasures and comforts of Hfe. " It is indeed true,'' says 
Bishop Reyncddsi " to enjoy ' the light of the sun,' and the 
comforts of the present life is very sweet ; seiuualhf sweet to 
those who ieire voluptuous; solidly and gubitanitalfy sweet to 
those who have obtained spiritual wisdom to cure the vamty and 
vexation of spirit inherent in them. Yet, both the one and the 
other must remember, that though Ufo be sweet under the ste, it 
is not long, much less perpetual. Days of darkness me to 
come ; there remains, therefore, something more to be ciflected to 


CHAP. XI.] NOTES. 159 

the attaiiimeiit of comptete hi^pmess, and sueh an estate to l>e 
secured as may bear full proportion to the capacities of an 
immortal sotil, and may constitote the whole of man/' 

8. and rejddeif in them all]— These words must be under- 
stood with some limitation, namely, comparatirely rejoiomg, or 
happy for the most part; otherwise there could be no days of 
darkness at all. 

•^ All that Cometh is vanity] — ^This clause is ambiguous. It 
may mean, every one that is bom into the woild is subject to 
vanity, or every thing that cometh to pass in the world is vanity, 
or all that is past is vanity, or all that is to come is vanity. 
These are severally supported by the authority of respectable 
names, and may all be i^o connected with the otiter clauses as to 
afford a consistent meaning; but the second seems preferable; 
namely. All that cometh to pass in the world, all that can be 
derived from its labours and pleasure, is nothing better than 

9. Rymce^ O tfoung man, &c.]--<The Preacher here proposes 
another argument to die practice of charity, from the consideration 
that God wiU punish the man who, devoted to a course of 
luxurious enjoyment, neither pities nor relieves his distressed 
brethren. Notwithstanding what Geier, Daihe, in his edition of 
Glassn PhU, Sac, p. 913, and otiien say to the contrary, the first 
part of iSbe verse appears to be ironioa] ; for if it were the design of 
Solomon, in this place, to instruct youth in tile lawfol enjoyment 
of the good things of Ufe, how could he say, that God will bring 
a man into judgment for such lawful indulgences ? Considered as 
an irony, how beautifully does it illustrate the context! The 
(Subject of this section is charity and benevolence; and, after 
sevei^l observations in recommendation of these virtues, the 
royal philosopher addresses youth, that season of gaiety and 
Vokfytubusa^ss, in a ^rain ttf ctitting irony: Go, young man. 




160 NOTES. [chap. XI. 

indulge in s«di eajoyttents as are coninon to ^e yigour of 
youth; gratify thy sensual indinations ; but, to be serious, recol- 
lect thaty if thou be deroted to loxurious self-indnlgencey without 
regarding or relieying thy suffering brethren, thou wilt incur the 
▼engeanoe of Hearen. Therefore, (says he, in Terse 10,) remoTe 
obduracy and an uncharitable disposition from thy heart, and put 
away all carnal desire; for the pleasures of youth are vanity, 
while true wisdom and yirtue are the only real good, securing 
lasting happiness, which wilP endure when the world and all the 
fashion thereof shall vanish away. There is, probably, an allusion 
to a future state ; though it may be explained in reference to the 
Mosaic covenant, founded on the sanction of temporal rewards 
and punishments. 

— in the dm^ of % y<m<A]— Or, <* in thy choicest days,*" 
as Durell and Parkhurst chuse to render ^e phrase here and 
chap. xii. 1. 

10. cbdmracif] — literaUy, ''anger," by which I understand, 
diat obduracy or uncharitable disposition which refuses the meed 
of sympathy and compassion to distress. It may justly be caHed 
** anger," (D]r3 ira^ imdignoHo,) because it is, as it were, indigna- 
tion against mankind, and because it brings down the wra^ of 

— fmt awmf emljrom thfjkik] — A periphrasis for sensuality, 
or carnal desires, «. e. put away thy sensual lusts and inclinations. 

I Critical Note (*.) 

j * The word translated " childhood" is nnnvn, literally, " the 

I dawn of life," by which, probably, is meant the ignorance of 

f early youth; ti avoia, LXX; ^^sJ^t, Jlo ignanmiia, Syiiac 

I —(See Parkhurst on 'intt^.) Dathe's version b, '* juventus enim 

«que fugax est ac aurora;" but the Hebrew text will not bear it 


CHAP. XH.] NOTES. 161 


1. Remember fww thy Cremtor, &c.]--We are here exhorted 
to cahiTate in youth, the choicest time of life^ erery sestiiiieiit 
«&d disposition proper to be exercised towards the great Fadier 
of all. In the original it is Creators in the plural number. Some 
MSS., indeed, have it in the singular, and it is so rendered in ihe 
ancient versions; but it by no means follows that it was singular 
in the copies from which Ihese translations were made. [Nothing 
can be more evident, from the collations of Kennicott and De 
Rossi, than that Creators (plural ^^^H'lU) is the true readmg; and 
the employment of a plural appellation of God, in this and other 
passages of Scripture, was designed, we may fairly presume, to 
indicate, though obscurely, a plurality of Persons in die Divine 
Essence. See more in my Note to Proverbs ix. 10. 

— the evil 'days\ — By these is not meant days of sin and 
criminality, but the period of those pains, weaknesses, and infirmi- 
ties vdiich are the frequent concomitants of age. That the 
particles vh 'W)^ '^v are properly rendered " before," in this verse 
and verses 2 and 6, see Noldius, Concord. Partic. in voc. irpiv, 
Sym.; ^* antequam," Vulgate. 

2. Before the mn, &c.]— Desvoeux supposes this verse to 
be an introduction or transition to the mention which is about 
to be made of old age, and not a part of its description; 
in which, however, he is clearly vnrong, since it is explana- 
tory of what the Preacher had just before asserted, ** Re- 
member thy Creator in the days of thy youth, before the evU 
days come, namely, before the sun, and the light, and the 
moon, and th^ stars be darkened," &c. In the first verse he 
lays down a proposition concerning age, which is illustrated in 
those Ihat follow. But, though it unquestionably forms part of the 
description, it may be matter of doubt whether it is to be taken 
in a literal or figurative sensew Those who adopt the former. 


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102 NOTES. [chap. XII. 

interpret it of the dimness of the eyes and defecjt of vision, by 
which the aged are prevented from beholding the luminaries of 
heaven. In this view, however, it becomes a mere tautology 
widi the last daoie of the third verse, which makes strongly for 
a figurative sense. Yet, among the widely-varying opinions oi 
Qonmentaton, which shall we choose? By different expositon 
the sun, the light, the moon, and the stars are made to denote 
the heart, and the different organs of the body; the several ages 
tiunoogh which a man must pass ; the hilarity atid sereniiy of the 
countenance, which decay in old people ; the decay of the mental 
iMMilties. Though thb last is the opinion of Witsius, (3k9cd. 
Sme. T..2t Exerc. vi. § 15,) Dr. Smith, (Sohmon's Portraiture of 
Old Age, p. 26,) Dr. Mead, (Mediea Sacra, p* 36,) and others, 
there are two insuperaUe objections to the con3idering it as a 
description of the imbecilities of the mind's intemal powers. 
FirMt, it does not appear that the sun, lighl; moon, aud stars 
are ever used metaphorically in the Scriptures for the mental 
fiaculties; and the writers just cited have not been able to pro- 
duce any example. Secondly, this exposition is irrecondli^e 
with the second hemistich, " and the clouds relnm after the ram," 
which cannot be explained in reference to the iatdk^tnal powers. 
Such are the conclusive ob|ectioa8 to the interpretation of these 
learned critics ; and much likewise may, witfi eiqual reason, be 
opposed to the other expositions before mentioned. I accede to 
the opinion of those who understand the verse as a general state- 
ment of the pains and miseries of age, the first hemistich describing 
the insensibility to pleasure, and the second the succession of 
pains and infirmities, which usually attend, on that period of life. 
This accords with the metaphorical sense of the tfixfi^ in other 
passages dfthe Sacred Writmgs, happiness mi pip^rity being 
often represented by light, and the contrary by d9fka,ess» Judges 
V. 31 ; 2 Sam. xxiii. 4 ; Isfuah xxx. 26^ )x. 20; Esther tiii. 1,6^ Sec 
Great afltictions are expressed by the darkening of the sun, 
mocm, wA stars, Isfoah wi« 9, \0, 11» xxiv. ^j iffdr. iv. 23; 
]&Eek. wxu. 7; Jo^ii. 10,iii. 1^; Aw>^, viii. 9;,JMa|t,wv. 20.— 
(See aia#9, JPMt Sms^f. 10*2, ef s^.) Uf^% tfee^ i^ a stritung 


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CHAP. XII.] NOTES. l0.> 

picture of a morbid and melancholy old age, when the heyday 
of youthful frolic and amusement has been succeeded by the 
lingering years of imbecility, weakness, and decay. 

— arid the chuds return after the rain] — ^Though this is re- 
ferred by some to the defluxions from the ears, nose, eyes, &c. 
with which age is often afflicted, it seems rather to be an image 
taken from the weather, and denoting a perpetual succession of 
pains and infirmities, according to the exposition of Grotius, Geier, 
Calmet, Pool, Hewlett, van der Palm, Wells, Michaehs, Smith, 
Mead, Doederlein, Dathe. Age, in many instances, has few 
moments of comfort, and may be compared to a season of con- 
tihued gloom, when the cheerful rays of the sun seldom shine 
forth, but after torrents of rain the clouds return dark and lower- 
ing. Happy is the man who escapes these infirmities; iii^ho 
lengthens his years in the full exercise of the powers of his under- 
standing ; who^ cheered by the recollection of a well-spent life, 
and the glorious hope of immortality, beholds the gentle decay of 
nature with calm tranquillity, and at last sinks into the grave 
''in a full age, like as a shock "of com cometh in in his season.' ~ 
Jfob V. 26. 

S,In the daywhen the keepers, &c.] — ^This verse has been 
explained, by the general current of expositors, to denote the 
members and organs of the body. The Targumist and Mercer 
consider the ribs to be meant by " the keepers of the house ;" but, 
as Dr. Smith observes, '' how they shall be said to tremble is not 

' to be made appear ; forasmuch as experience doth sufficiently 
confirm, that they stand as fixed in old as in young, and more 
fixed too. And indeed their articulation, both to the stemon and 
also to the vertetn-ae of the back, is such, that they admit of veiy 
little and obscure motion, but not at all of this trembling." — 
(Solomon's Portraiture, p. 66.) Those who make " the keepers 
of the house" to denote the hands and arms are in the right; for, 

^rst, the body is represented in Scripture by a house, (Job iv. 19 ; 
N N 


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164 ' NOTES. [chap. XII. 

2 Cor. ▼. \,) and the hands are described as a defence and pro- 
tection. — (Gen. xlix. 24; Nehem, iv. 17; Job xxxL 21, 22; 
Psahn xliv. 3.) And, secondbf, ** the keepers of the house'' are 
here said to tremble, which well adumbrates the palsied arm of 
age. The image appears to be taken from a palace; the hands 
and arms being as much a protection to the body as guards and 
attendants are to the habitations of princes. 

— and the ttnmg men $haU bow thenuehes] — Haying repre- 
sented the arms *' by the keepers of the house," thie author now 
speaks of the lower limbs, and '^ the strong men" can be no 
other than the knees and legs, which, scarcely able to support the 
body, bend and totter under the aged. The allusion is still to 
the guards of a royal palace, who bow and tremble in the pre- 
sence of their sorereign. 

— and the grmdert oea8e\ — Some suppose that the word 
translated ** grinders" means grmdrng-maids^ used metaphorically 
for the teeth which masticate the food. The ancient Jews 
haying only hand-mills, consigned the woiking of them to their 
slaves, particularly to the females, whose business it was to grind 
the com, as may be collected from Exod. xi. 6; Isa. xlvii. 2; 
Matt xxiy. 41; Luke xvii. 35. — (See Jahn, ArcfuBohgia BibL 
§ 138, 189.) The same custom still prevails in the East — (Har- 
mer, Obaervatums, voL i. p. 433; Burder, Oriental Customs^ 
Nos. 637, 7d4, 993.) The reasons, however, given by Desvoeux 
(p. 370) and others, for rendering it *^ grinding-maids," are, in my 
apprehension, not convincing. — See Critical Note (*.) 

* The chief reason for the opinion^ that the word translated 
** grinders" literally means grindinp-maids, is, that nunon is 
feminine; yet this does not necessarily imply that they were 
females, as the femmine is frequently used in Hebrew for die 
neuter; (Storr, Observat. ad Anal, et Synt. Heb. p. 247;) or. 


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•^— those that look out of the windows be darkened] — ^This, 
it is evident^ denotes the eyes and their infirmities^ Harmer 
lliinks there is an allusion *' tothe circumstances of the females of 
the Easty who, though confined much more to the house than those 
of Europe are, and afraid to show themselves to strangers even 
there, are sometimes indulged with the pleasure of looking out of 
the windows, when any thing remarkable is to be seen, or of 
assembling on the house-top on such occasions." — Observations, 
yqL iiL p. 171* So Desvoeuz, PhihL Obs. lib. ii. cap. 3, § 18. 

4. And the doors shaU be shut in the streets] — Of those who 
understand this literally, some explain it of the doors of his 
house, by which he went out into the street, being closed, so that 
he keeps within doors in consequence of his infirmities, wimout 
being able to go abroad for business or pleasure; while others 
take it to mean his being excluded horn public assemblies, be- 
cause his voice is too low to be heard in such meetbgs. But it 
seems more just to explain it aUegorically of the lips; the image 
bdng founded on the resemblance between tlie lips and the doors 
of a house. Similar expressions are used in Job xli. 14 ; Ps. cxli. 
3; l^h. vii. 6. — ^The word pi», here rendered ** streets," only 
occurs, in addition to the place before us, in verse 5 ; Prov. vii. 8 ; 
Cant iiL 2, in all which it signifies street. It is in this place 
used metai^oricidly for some part of the body. It cannot, how- 
ever, mean '* those open ways and passages in the body of man 
which the matter of nourishment passeUi along, without let or 
molestation," as Dr. Smith supposes; for, besides the general 
objection to the ascription of recondite meanings to the images of 
this portrait, when these passages are shut death immediately 

it may agree with C3*jt2^, which is often, at least, feminine, in 
the same way as nmin, in the next clause, agrees with CD»j»y 
understood.— (See Walther, Ellips. Heb. p. 82, 104.) The verb 
1^01 only occurs here ; but in Chaldee and Syriac it means to 
cease, to be idle; r)^ffavy LXX; ** otiosae erunt," Vulgate. 


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166 NOTES. [chap. XII. 

ensues. If '* doors" io the former part actually denote the lips, 
there can be little doubt that by ** streef is meant the principal 
passage of the body» of which the mouth is the entrance, and 
which may be compared to a street, or the chief passage in a 
palace. ** The doors shall be shut in the streets," therefore, 
means, when stript of the metaphor, that the lips oi the mouth 
shall be shut, or shall press dose together in consequence of the 
loss of the teeth. 

— when the iound of the grinding is fow]— To preserve the 
consistency of the image, this must be explained of masticatioD, 
which cannot be heard when the teeth are lost* According to 
Geier, Grotius, Doederlem, Bauer, and Dathe, there is a refer- 
ence to the difficulty of enunciation through die loss of the teeth, 
by reason of which the aged cannot speak distinctly; but thou^ 
this is often the case, the former clause opposes such an interpre- 
tation, as we do not find that ** the doors of the moudi are shut" 
when this impediment is experienced. Upon the whole, the ex- 
pressions '' the doors shall be shut in the streets when the sound 
of the grinding is low,'^ are a poetical description of the loss of 
the teeth ; in consequence of which the lips press closely togettier, 
being deprived of that support or fulcrum which the teeth bw^ 
plied, and no sound is produced in the act of mastication* Har- 
mer's objections to this interpretation are so eyidently futile as 
not to require a refutation ; and his own ideas of this passage will 
not, I am persuaded, meet with many supporters* — See Observa- 
tions, &c, vol. iii. p. 179, el seq,, and Burder, Orient. Cust. 
No. 637. 

— he shall rise up at the voice of the bird[\ — ^A description of 
the sleepless nights of the aged. Though there b no antecedent 
nominative expressed to the verb ** he shall rise," (Dips) it 

* " Senes propter appetitns imminntioDem labra sua rarias, quam olim, 
aperioDt ; ita ob dentiom ad cibos comminneDdos defectum sonita etiam 
miDori id faciant. Honun antem posterius iDcomniodiim eleganter ad- 
modom verbis txiU smnJtu moUe deaignari videtnr.''— Mead, Med. Smc. p. 40. 


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evidently refers to the person whose condition the Preacher is 
describing, namely, the aged man. The word " bird" (tidy) may 
be put generically for the feathered tribe, agreeably to which the 
sense is, that the aged, being weary of couches on which they 
enjoy no rest, arise as soon as the birds awake their first notes 
in the morning. Several commentators, however, take it to mean 
a swallow; and, if this opinion be correct, the meaning may be, 
that the aged sleep so unsoundly as to be awakened by any noise, 
ev^ by the soft notes of a small bird ; but others explun it of 
the cock, making ''the i^oice of the bird" to denote the first 
crowing of the cock, which is in the night, before the dawning of 
the day ; and Mr. Harmer, who adopts this exposition, observes 
that ** it is common to all, the young and the healthy, as well as 
the aged, in the East to rise with the dawn; — but it is visible that 
rising earlier than common was what Solomon meant — Accord- 
ingly, we find that Solomon does not speak of the birds in the 
plural, but of the bird, the bird whose voice was first heard in 
the morning of aU the feathered tribe proclaiming its approach." 
— (Observations, vol. iii. p. 184. See also Bochart, Hieroz. P. 
% lib. i. c. 21, 23.) All these interpretations come to the same 
thing, implying that the aged too commonly pass the night in 
painful slumbers, and are glad to quit their uneasy pillows as 
soon as the herald of the mom has tuned his early notes. See 
this beautifully described in Job. vii. 4. 

— all the daughters of mtisic] — ^These, according to some 
conunentators, are the smging women, who, as is well known, 
were in great request among the Orientals. Thus Barzillai says, 
** I am this day fourscore years old ; and can I discern between 
good and evil ? can thy servant taste what I eat or what I drink? 
can I hear any more the voice of sin^g men and singing women ?" 
— (2 Sam. xix. 35.) Dr. Smith, who is followed by Parkhurst, 
understands the phrase to mean the organs which have reference 
to music, which he divides into active and passive ; i, e. '' such 
as make music themselves, or such as take and receive the music 


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168 NOTES. « [chap. XII. 

that if made by others." — (Sohwum'i Pcriraitwre of Old Age, 
p. 183.) To this interpretation 1 accede. ** All ^e dangfaters 
of mode,'' namely, all the organs employed in the production and 
enjoyment of music, '* shall be brought low,'' or rendered power- 
less to afford delight; words excellently portraying the old man's 
insensibility to the charms of melody and song, arimng as weD 
from deafness as from satiety with terrestrial enjojrments. 

6. Aho wAtffi theg ikaU he afraid^ &c.] — ^That is, as the com- 
mentators observe, through weakness, dimness of sight, and 
difficulty of respiration, old people are incapable of ascending 
high places ; and, through the natural timi<£ty of age, are erea 
afiraid of some mishap when they widk in the public ways. Or 
it may be understood in a more general sense, that die i^ed, 
being subject to doubts and alarms, and being conscious of the 
decay of their powers, consider erery the least undertaking 
as hazardous and difficult, if not insuperable. — See Critical 
Note (♦.) 

— the ahnond tree shall JhurUh] — ^This is a rery difficult 
clause, and hka, of course, been variously interpreted. " And 
he that is wakeful shall be contemned,'' Durell; ** the commerce 
of women shall be despised,^ Desvoeux ; ** when pleasure 
shall be despised,** Hodgson ; and others may be seen m Poli 

* Of the clause, as rendered in the E. T., ** they shall be afraid 
of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way," Desvoeux's 
ver»on is, " They shall be afraid even of distant objects; nay, of 
the scarecrows set on th^ way side.'' It is unnecessary to use 
many words in refuting this absurd rendering, omnnn, only found 
here, is derived from nnn to fear, and consequently means^ears, 
or objects which excite fears ; and as a reduphcation of the radical 
letters heightens the signification, it means exceeding great fears. 
It cannot be a participle, as Parkhurst supposes. 


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Synop,* These interpretations, itisobviouSy rest upon very slender 
evidence; whereas the traditionary sense of the Hebrew nonn, an 
almond tree, is supported by the use of the word in other passages, 
as Jer. i. 11, and Gen. xliii. 11 ; Numb. xvii. 8, where it denotes 
the fruit of the almcmd tree, and by the authority of the LXX 
and Vulgate. ^Such, most likely, is its meaning m the place 
before us, and the almond tree represents the hoary head, the 
usual attendant on advanced years. To this, however. Dr. Mead 
objects, (Med. Sac, p. 44,) that gray hairs are not peculiar to the 
aged, the hair of the young often turning to that colour ; and that 
die flowers of the almond tree are not white. But the answer is 
easy. Solomon's picture of age ought not to be held as uni- 
versally true, but true for the most part, and the hoary head, 
bdng^sually found in old persons, is properly noticed as charac- 
teristic of age. The second objection appears to be founded on 
a mistake, for Mr. Harmer shows, from Hasselquist, that the 
almond tree has white flowers; and he observes, that ** the hair 
of Eastern people is almost universally dark; an old man, then, 
with a white head, appears among those that are young some- 
what like an almond tree in blossom am<Hig the dark, unclothed 
twigs of other trees." — (Observations, vol. iii. p. 190.) We 
leam^ from Pliny, that this tree was in flower in winter before 
anyodier; '^ floret prima pnmium amygdala, mense Januario." 
— (lib. xvL § 42.) There can be no doubt, therefore, that the 
hoary head is fitly represented by the almond tree. — See Critical 

* According to the first of these versions, *Tpt2^ is taken in the sense of 
watching, waJdng, which is an acknowledged signification of the root; 
and, according to the two latter, in the sense of membrum genitale, Des- 
voenx, indeed, proposes to read it with a Sin, instead of SMn, and explains 
it by embraced, or close preteed; hot Lament, i. 14, to which he appeals, 
does not bear him out; and his conjecture, however ingenious and plau- 
sible, cannot outweigh the evidence for the received sense of Iptt^. 

t The verb f Ml* may be derived from f u, tojiowrish, which 
presents a beautiful image, that gray hairs shall come on like an 


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170 NOTES. [chap. XII. 

— the graakopper shall be a burden] — I entirely agree with 
Dr. Smith, whose interpretation is thus sumroed up by Parkhurst, 

almond tree in &11 blossom; or from x^^9 lo despise, to cast off, 
that w, the aged shall lose their gray hairs as an almond tree 
sheds its white flowers. In this latter sense it is understood 
by the author of Choeleth, a Poem, and by the very learned 
Schroeder, in his ObservatUmes ad Orig, Heb. p. 152, who ren- 
ders iptt^n r^r " eximtiet amygdala, suos scilicet fructus et folia, 
ut stet pristino d^BCore orbata. Talis arbor purchra imago est 
homines confecti sen^ta, et pristino flore atque vigore destitiiti." 
Though Michaelis^ Schulz^ and others agree in this interpretation, 
I prefer the former, ^ being conformable to the LXX and 
Vulgate. The objection of these critics, that a flourislung tree is 
rather the symbol of youthful yigour than of old age, does not 
apply to the case before us, as the comparison is restricted to this 
single circumstance, that through age the hair will become white, 
like an almond tree in full blossom. — As to the clause, rendered 
in £. T. ** and desire shall fail," interpreters are greatly at a loss 
to explain the atrai Xey. nJVlH. After an attentive considieration 
of all the expositions to which I have access, I vastly prefer that 
which refers it to the root ni«, velle, concupiscere, acquiescere, 
and take it in the sense of acquiescence, acquiescent satisfaction; 
(see Parkhurst in voo,;) agreeably to which the clause may be 
rendered, " and satisfaction shall be abolished.'' The LXX, 
Syriac, and Vulgate render it by '* capparis," the caper tree, or 
fruit; which is likewise adopted by Dr. Smith, van derPalm, 
Bauer, and Michaelis, (Supplem, ad Lex. No. 6;) and if it be 
true, that " capparis herba est appetitum provocans,'' (see more in 
Poli Synop.) it may be put metaphorically for enjoyment, and so 
accord in sense witii the version here adopted. According to 
this idea, it is true, capparis alludes " ad appetitum rei venerese;** 
but, notwithstanding the objections of Michaelis, this particular 
instance may be put for the general loss of all satisfietction and 


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Lex, in lan : ** The dry, shrunk, shrivelled, crumpling, craggy 
old man, his backbone sticking out, his knees projecting forwards, 
liis arms backwards, his head downwards, and the apophyses* 
or bunching parts of the bones in general enlarged, is very aptly 
described by that insect. And from this exact likeness, without 
all doubt, arose the fable of Titkonus, that, living to extreme M 
age, he was at last turned into a grasshopper.'^ Other and very 
different opinions may be seen in Poli Synop, and Bochart, 
Hi^oz. P. ii. lib. 4, cap. 8. — See also Paxton, lUuitratumgf 
vol. i. p. 324. 

— and the mourners, &c.] — ^This refers to the ancient custom 
of employing hired mourners to attend the funeral obsequies, to 
wail and lament for the departed, and to celebrate their virtues 
in elegiac strams accompanied with soft and plaintive music — 
(2 Chron. xxxv. 25; Job iii. 8; Jer. ix. 17; Jahn, Archaohgia 
BibL § 211 ; Brown, Antiq. of the Jews, P. xi. § 14.) For the 
various modes of expressing grief, customary among the ancient 
Hebrews, see Geier's learned treatise, De Luctu HeknBorum. 

6* Before the silver cord, ^c] — As the four preceding verses 
are a figurative description of the infirmities which commonly 
accompany old age ; so this is a figurative description of the cir- 
cumstances attending its final period in dissolution. In no part 
of the whole picture is it more needful to establish the principle 
of its interpretation ; for on that it depends whether we are to 
explain it in a popular manner, or to illustrate it from the re- 
searches of anatomical science. If what has been advanced in 
tiie fifth section in the Preliminary Dissertation is correct, we 
are to consider this verse as exhibiting only a general account, 
not presenting a medical detail, of the effects of death; and 
whatever may be shadowed out under each particular image, we 
are to understand it of something apparent to common observers. 
It is more particulariy necessary to keep this in view, since, from 
the boldness of the imagery, bold almost beyond Oriental daring, 
if any attempt be made to discover deep and recondite meanings, 
O O 


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172 NOTES. [chap. XII. 

we flkatt be led into an exposkion whicb, however ingenioosy 
twitt only be wild and visionaty. The coflunentatofa aae nat 
>agraed whence the images are takm; some supponig that they 
ritade to the golden lamps hanging by sttver or sflken corda&om 
theroofy and lormag no small part of Eaatom magnifioence; 
odien contendnig that the aUusionis to l3ke cord» buoket^wheel, 
and oistem of a well, which is, pechaps, most pic4>able ; but^as 
die determination of this question is not necessary to the explan^ 
atioa of the passage, it woidd be idle to waste time in the- dis- 
cussion. — ^The Targumist interprets ** the silver cord" of the 
string of the tongue ; some, of the humours of the body ; others, 
of the nerves ; but nwst, of the spinal marrow. Dr. Smith tUnks 
it denotes the sfonal marrow, and all the nerves thence arising. 
Several reasons, however^ incline me to restrict it to the spinal 
Bmnow alone; for, /ir$if that is most conspicuous to common 
observers. Secondly, it appears to the eye, as Dr. Snuth remarks, 
of a white» shining, resplendent beauty, bright as sfly^. ' 7%tr(%, 
as the same vmter observes, it is placed deep, secret, and secnte 
in the body, like veins of silver in the earth. Fourthly , bad it 
been meant to denote the nerves, as well as the spinal marrow, 
it would, UKMt likely, have been in the plural number. And, 
2at%, it may well, from its excellency, be called " the silver 
oord.^ These reasons show convincingly that it denotes the 
spinal marrow^ — See Critical Note (*.) 

* Hie verb pnn, toremove^ when applied to a cord, must mean 
to rem^pe the t&eture, to loose. Instead of pnns the Ken and 
many MSS. have pn*)% ody found as a verb in Nahum iiu 10, 
and evidently in the sense of binding or girding ; and as a noun 
in 1 JSings vi. 21 ; Isaiah xl. 19; Ezek. viL 23, evidently signifying 
thaim: but as diis sense is not applical^e to the passage bd^ore 
usy wc^ must adopt pnn* as the true reading. Ihe andent ver- 
sions render it by words signifying to ctU or break* — In the next 
.dause the word rendered '^ bowl" is nVj, from ^^J, to roll, and 
is righlly so rendered, as m Zech. iv. 2, 3.^See Taylor^s 


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— the gMm bowl be broken] — ^Ilial it, as Dwell «xfiaiiia it,. 
'' before the head is redaced to a mere eaipty skull, iwt uidik« 
then in cokrar to gold, or in fovn to abowl.''*-f CViltoa/ Memmris 
in loc.) It has been suggested to me by afiriend, that the epithet 
«< goMen*' is meant to apply more to t^ impwHnee of the head 
than to any resemblance to gold in eohmr, which it has neWier in 
fif&nor in death. 

— > thepiMer be skatiered at thefomUain, and the wheel be 
broken at the cietem'] — By ** the pitoher" Dr« Svuth understands 
the veins ; by ** the fountain," the right ventricle of the heart ; by 
^ the whed,'^ the great artery caAled the aorta; and by ** ike 
dstem,^ tiie left ventricle of the heart. As there ave bo gtounds, 
however, for supposing- this desciiptioB to be anatomicaflyeenreot, 
it is more likely 'that ike firi^ clause describes, in a popular man- 
ner, though in highly figurative language, the cessation of the 
action of the heart; alid the laitter, ike loss of ike power of 
respiration by the lungs. ** The images of this text," says Bishop 
Horsley, "* are not easy to be explained on any other supposition 
thanHhat the writer, Otthe Spkit which guided ike writer, nreant 
to allude to the circulation of the blood, and the structure of ike 
principal parts by which it is carried on. And upon the sup- 
positioi^ that such allusions were intended, no obscurity, I believe, 
will remain for the anatomist in the whole passage.''— ^iSermoiM, 
vol. iii. p. 190, Lond. 1813.) But, with all deference to this 
sagacious writer, I must dissent from his opinion, that the circu- 
lation 6f the blood is intimated in this passage. It appears to me 
to be the sole intention of the writer to describe the cessation of 
those animal functions which are observable to every beholder. 

Comsordanee.) The LXX. render it by avOefuoy, a wotd of 
uncertain import ;. '(see Biel, Themwr. in voc.;) S^^Hnaohus by 
mpifepec, zona, accordtng to Montfaucon, but probably meaning 
something round, a bowl \ Vulgate by ** vitta;" but the meaning 
is obscure. 


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174 NOTES. - [chap. Xlf* 

To attempt <farawiBg a profouad meaning horn every drcumatance 
mentioned ia this poetical account of the doang scene of fife, is 
smrely to refine upon the expressions in a vary calp^^ degree. 
It cannot reasonably be believed, that the royal author intended 
any thmg more &an to describe the evident effects of death, as 
ezhib^ied in the cessation of the vital functions of the head, 
hearty and lungs. For this purpose he employs images taken, as 
is most probable, from the machinery used in drawing water from 
a wdl. There is imdoubtedly a general resemblance, and in diis 
general resemblance we ought to rest, without vainly endeavour- 
ing to assimilate every minute circumstance, or to show its 
accordance with the anatomy of man. This view is one more 
lik^ to be just, when it is considered that those who have at- 
tenqpted to investigate the minutiie with medical precision have 
adopted widely-diversified and most unfounded opinions; and 
that even the learning and abilities of Dr. Smith could not elicit 
a medical interpretation that can at all satisfy a sober inquirer. 

7. I%em ikaU the duti, &c.]— In the first hemistich is declared 
die general dissolution of the whde human frame, and, in the 
second, that the vital spark survives the wreck of the body; 
which proves that the immortality of the soul was believed in the 
age of Sdomon. — See Prdim. Dissert § 4, and Hackspan, Noim 
PkUoL vol. it p. 507. 

8. Vanity ofvomties^ &c.]— Professor Doederlein, both ia his 
Scholia and in his Jn$tihUio TheoL ChritU § 40, maintains, that 
the remainder of the chapter, from this verse, has no coherence 
vMk the argument of the discourse, and that it was added by tl^ 
compiler, whoever he might be, who collected together the several 
parts of the Sacred Volume. The same opinion was entertained 
by Peters ; (€rit. Diss, an Job. Pref p. 69 ;) it rests, however, 
upon no better foundation than mere assertion. Though it is no 
easy matter to say by what person or persons the Sacred Writings 
were first collected together, we may rest assured, from the reli- 
gious scrupulosity of the Hebrews, with respect to all matters 


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pertaining to their public creed and worship, that it was done by 
such as were properly qualified for the undertaking. It is enough 
to be convincedy that they have been received into Ihe canon by 
the concurrent authority of the whole Jewish Church. There is 
not the smallest reason for supposing, that the last seven versed 
of the Ecclesiastes were not written by the same author as the 
rest The expressions in verse 12, ** and further, my son, by 
these be admonished," are unsuitable to a compiler, as van der 
Palm observes, (Diss, de Lib. Eccles, p. 84,) while they agree 
well with Solomon, who was accustomed, in his moral writings, 
to address his hearers in this manner. Nor is it probable that 
any person either would or could add the concluding verses to 
the book without some intimation of it They form, moreover, 
a prqper conclusion to the treatise, and, except they had been 
added, the book would have been left lame and imperfect Afiter 
showing the vanity of all terrestrial things, and describing the 
nature and excellence of Wisdom, the philosophical monarch 
very naturally proceeds to state the inference intended to be 
drawn from the whole disquisition. It was as necessary to hear 
the conclusion of the whole matter as the arguments which led 
to it. He, therefore, sums up in verses 8 — 12 what had been 
discussed in the first part of the discourse, giving, at the same 
time, a short statement of his labours in the pursuit and inculca- 
ti(Hi of heavenly Truth ; and deUvers, in the two last verses, the 
result of the second part of the book, that the Sovereign Good 
and real happiness of man consists in true, practical Wisdom, in 
fearing God, and keeping his commandments. 

9. he gave good heed, and sought owi, and set in order mat^ 
proverbs] — Literally, ** he weighed, or diligently considered, and 
sought out, and arranged many proverbs ;" bat the two former 
verbs are, probably, used adverbially, and if so, these clauses 
may be rend^ed, ** and with diligent inquiry he composed many 
proverbs :" *' ditigenter omnia explorans multas oongessit sen- 
tentias," Dathe. 


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176 NOTES. [chap. XII. 

10. 2%e Vftmfktr iomgki, Ac] — Tkean seems aa qppoeitkm 
betireen ** acceptable words" aad ^ words of truth ;^ the former 
probably iMaiiM§ the agreemUeness of the style and esipresBioii, 
and die latter, the propriety of the seiitimeiits.--See Critical 
Note (*.) 

lL,Tke umdi rf tki mss, &c.]— This does not mean the 
words of any who may be acooonted wise, but of those whose 
Wisdom is from aboTO, men divinely inspired. That it refers 
ahme to the words of inspiration appears from what fdlows, 
^ the collectors have published them from oneShepherd," namely, 
Ood, which cannot possibly Se meant of the sayings of mere 
hmnaa wisdom. We haye, moreover, in these expressions, a 
oonfirmation of the Divine authority of that which has been 
handed down to us in the Scriptures as the words of the wise. 
Ihey have been iikspired by the " one Shepherd,** who is God, 
as is plain from the emphatieal manner in which it is expressed, 
or, peihaps, the Son of God, as Diodati and many others main- 
tain, diat Son who was tiie Ghurch^s supreme Shepherd, (John 

* Honbigaat and Povell, instead of the textual ain^, would 
foad:Bn3^; and the' Syiiac,^ Vulgate, and Aqutta render ft ^'he 
•wfofeetf it cannot, however, be inferred that they found an^* in 
their copies, for ^y might take nina as the infinitive putfot the 
pr9taiifte,a8itsom^imesi8. — (Glass, PAt'l. Sac. p. 288.) ffishop 
Patrick says the verse runs ti^, word for word, in the Hebrew: 
" The Preacher carefully sought to meet with desirable words; 
juad-the writing of uprightness; and the words of taruth." As 
Ao.ifae latter .partyi > I think it best to take ^it^' advisrbially, or to 
•aiipply Ihe preposition i^ aad to render it ** — ^ and to- wrtt6*down 
tptapeiiy»;/Of rig^%, te. words of truth." This seems Ihe-iMet 
oasy i ntoq i f e tation. ^ He searched that he n^t ihid< pteasant 
^Offds^:'aiid wro^ rightly the words of truth," Luther'd Ckrmati 


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X. II ; 1 Peter v. 4,) and by whose S{Miit all tbe prophets have 
spdken. From the Holy Trinity the sayings of the wise have pro«- 
ceeded ; by their sanction and authority they are published ; and 
thus Solomon asseijts the inspiration of the Jewish Meshalim, 
which include not only proverbs, in our common acceptation of 
the wordy but any weighty and important maxim or sentiment— ^ 
See Prd. Dis9. to Prov. p. 10, and Critical Note (♦.) 

* This verse supplies abundant matter for critical and philo- 
logical remarks; I shall, therefore, as briefly as possiUe, state 
tiie observations I have to make, according to the order of the 
words. — as goads] — It is not absolutely certain that p*)n means 
a goad, but there is all the evidence for it the case admits ; for, 
first, it suits the context, both here and 1 Sam. xiii. 21, the only 
other place where it is found. Secondly, it is confirmed by the 
Polyglott versk)ns. Thirdly, in Arabic w^ is aeutus JuU* 
— Hketmhl-r-^ r)^'^nmD^ is rendered in the ancient versions; and 
though there is no other example where nott^D is rendered in that - 
sense, it may be observed, that many MSS. have nilDDD3, and 
that Sameeh and Sin, being letters of the same organ, are some-^ 
times changed. This also^ is both the traditionairy sense^ ajMl is 
very snitxMe to the context — deepbf infixed] — As nmott^D and 
0*1^18^1 do^nol Agree in gender, E. T,, '* as nails fastened by,"d;c. 
is improper* The latter, therefove, refers to nin, *' the words of 
ihe wise/' which are like goacb, and ore deeply infixed, like nails; 
so Da^ and Lowth (PrceL de Poes. Heb>. xxiv.) This» though 
differmg from the Masoretic punctuation, appears to be the true 
interpretation; but Desvoeux's version is, 'Mike planted reposi^ 
tcmes;" and Parkhurst's, ** like the fences of plantations," namely, 
to guard the plants and trees of righteousness. — {Lex. in *>fitt^ %) 
— tAe Dotteotor^.]— The great Bbbbinioal scholar. Dr. lightfeot, 
supposes niBOM *^r:ft to mean the servants that attend about 
the flodt undef the shepherd^t and lie would render the words by 
way of paraphrase : ^^ The wards <^the wise are as goadst amdas 


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178 NOTES. [chap. XII. 

12. Of making mang hooki, &c.] — ^This, it is evidenty must be 
taken with some such limitations as in the Paraphrase. Sadb 

mailifoiiened bff thote that gather the/lock into the fold: Croads 
to drive away the thief or the wild beast ; and nails to preserve 
Ike sheepMd whole and in good repair. Which goads and Mails 
are furnished by the chief shepherd, the master of the flock, for 
diese uses." — (Works, vol. ii. p. 675.) If, as before observed, 
oijriD J does not agree with ** nails," but with *' ihe words of die 
wise," this ingenious explication cannot be admitted. Van der 
Palm takes ihe phrase to mean the moral precepts which are 
collected together; ''jam verocumputem niJDDM *^lf2. parallelum 
esse rw o*D3n nni, tum per dominos coUectionum inteUigo'wii- 
teniias virorum prudentum ac pr4Bcepta moralia.'* To this Bauer 
accedes in his Scholia* The learned Dr. Hales also renders 
nifiDH *^n by '' master-collections," and thinks they correspond 
to the rvpiOi ^ai, the authoritatiYe aphorisms of EfRCurus and 
other Heathen philosophers. — (Neto Anahfsis, vol. ii. p. 405.) 
But these interpretations cannot be correct, as hp^ is never ap- 
plied by the Sacred Writers to inanimate things ; and, besides, 
it has invariably reference to ownership, or possession, which, 
when applied to *' collections," must mean ^* niaster of collections." 
This is evident beyond all doubt ; but still the question returns, 
what is intended by this expression ? Harmer thinks that nifiDM 
^hn ought to be translated '* masters, or rather, lords of as- 
semblies," denoting the persons who distinguished themselves 
by the superiority of their compositions in tiiose assemblies so 
frequent among the Orientals, in which they entertained them- 
selves with reciting and listening to literary productions in prose 
and verse. — (Ohservatians, vol. iii. p. 215, et seq.) Though 
nifiDH occurs nowhere else, it may be alleged, in ftivour of this 
interpetation, that the root ^DH certainly means to assemble, to 
collect together, and that some of its derivatives likevrise denote 
a gathering together, an assembly, as Isaiah xxiv. 22; Numb. 


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CHAP. JLll.] NOTES. 179 

obMrratioDB as this tenvd contains are not mathemalical axioms, 
and common sense requires them to be understood with prc^r 
restrictions. — See the Prelim. Dissert. § i. p. xxiii. 

il3. LH mhear ike ooMc/im<m]---Iilerally, <' the end/' Umt is, 
tiieendtof, or the inference from '^ the whole matter'' contained 
in the second part of the book, the sum and substance of the 
whole argument of it. 

> '-"^ iforthigis'fthe w^ole duty of fitiifi]^This elliptical clause is 
properly supplied by our translators. It may be literally ren- 
dered j "for this is to, or belongs to eyery man,'' that is, taking 
the wonk^in tfie largest sense,- this practical Wisdom b profitable 
to ereryman, is the duty of every man, is his supreme good, and 
the perfection of his nature.-^Geier, Le Clerc, and others pro- 
perly supply the particle h before ^3. 

14* For God shall bring, &c.] — ^That this verse does not refer 
to the temporal retribution exercised under the Theocracy, but to 

xi. 4; Nehem. xii. 25, where *fiDt^l is rendered in E. T. *' at the 
thresholds," but would be better ** at the congregations or 
assemblies." According to this, '* the lords, or masters of 
assemblies" denote those who rule and teach in the sacred as- 
semblies, which masters or teachers are given from, that is, ap- 
pointed and directed by one Shepherd or Supreme Governor, 
namely, God J' — (Wells's Paraphrase.) This, however, b open 
to several objections; (see Prel. Diss. §iii. p. 41;) for which 
reason I adopt another interpretation, which, after Le Clerc and 
others, takes nifiDM ^hjti, masters of collections, tohe a Hebraism 
for ** collectors;" by which expression no other can be meant than 
those who collected and disposed in order the sayings of men 
divinely inspired, as the men of Hezekiah, mentioned ProTerbs 
XXV. 1. 

P P 


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180 NOTES. , [gHAP. XII. 

a future state of rewards and punishments^ see ^e Prdim. 
Dbsert § iv. p. 53, et seq. 

— whether it be good, or whether it be bad}— It is doubtful 
whether this clause refers to ** every work," or to '* every seeret 
thing," or to both; though the last is most probable. — See 
Critical Note (* ) 

* The clause ** with every secret thbg" is rightly translated; 
for the particle hsf has the sense of unth, vna cum. — (See Noldius, 
Concord. Partic. in bif 9.) Schultens thus renders it: '*omne 
opus adducet Deus in judicium, o^r J ^3 ^:f, quantumvis omne sit 
signatum, qua bonum, qua malum.'' — Origines Hebraa, p. ddOu 


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to which are added, a list of Authors consulted, and an 
Index of Texts. Byo, 10s. 6d. 

Printed M F, C. «iii2 J. Atvtii^ofi, No, 62, St PttwT* Churchward, and 
No. 9, Waterloo-place^ PaU-maU, Lond&m. 


of the PROVERBS of SOLOMON, with NOTES, 
Critical and Explanatory, and a Preliminary Dissertation. 
8to, 15s. 

5^58 C36' 

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